Throughout the novella ‘Animal Farm’, Orwell evokes sympathy from the audience for the animals using a variety of successful methods. For example, Orwell presents most of the animals as not being very intelligent, and that Napoleon and the other pigs take full advantage of this. He also often uses emotive language to highlight the animals’ suffering and create great sympathy for the animals that he depicts. Squealer and the concept of propaganda are also vital to presenting the naive nature of the animals, as they are constantly fed lies in order to stay under the pigs’ control.
George Orwell often uses emotive language to create sympathy for the animals he depicts. At one point in Chapter VII, for instance, Orwell uses the narrator to describe Clover’s reflections on the violence that has befallen the farm in the time since the rebellion: ‘These scenes of terror and slaughter were not what they had looked forward to on that night when old Major first stirred them to rebellion…a society of animals set free from hunger and the whip…they had come to a time when no one dared speak his mind, when fierce, growling dogs roamed everywhere, and when you had to watch your comrades torn to pieces after confessing to shocking crimes.’
In passages such as this, Orwell utilizes emotive language through the narrator to create great sympathy for the animals. The word “terror” refers to mental suffering, while the word “slaughter” refers to great physical violence. The animals do not merely suffer psychologically and emotionally; they suffer physically as well. The animals have not been freed either from “hunger” (which causes a constant, gnawing internal pain) or from the “whip,” which causes sharp, biting external pain. Moreover, the animals “dare not speak their minds”: thus, they suffer mentally and intellectually as well. At the same time, they are threatened by “fierce, growling dogs,” who symbolize the constant danger they face of vicious, deadly physical attack. In short, every kind of torment has been imposed upon them.
To make matters even worse, the animals not only face such viciousness themselves but must suffer the pain of watching their “comrades [being] torn to pieces after confessing to shocking crimes.” Orwell continually uses the narrator to make very vivid the suffering that the animals now endure – suffering that is simultaneously physical, psychological, emotional, and intellectual, and suffering that hangs like a dark cloud over their past, present, and future. They are living a kind of hell on earth, and it is nearly impossible not to feel sympathy for them.
Orwell also elicits sympathy from the reader by presenting the animals as not being very intelligent. An example of this is Orwell’s use of Boxer, who is shown to be of a low intellect, and is quickly taken advantage of because of his naive and trustworthy nature. His personal mantra ‘I will work harder,’ indicates his belief in Animalism and that he was prepared to work incredibly hard, but despite all this, the pigs dispose of him the second he is no longer of use, and his value as a worker is diminished to the price that his body would fetch for glue (even though his wounds were surely not fatal). Orwell uses the pigs in order to anger and frustrate the reader, and feel great sympathy for Boxer due to his unjust death. The moment the pigs are faced with something material that they want—the fresh milk—they abandon their morals and use their superior intellect and knowledge to deceive the other animals. The pigs also limit the other animals’ opportunities to gain intelligence and education early on. They teach themselves to read and write from a children’s book but destroy it before the other animals can have the same chance. Indeed, most of the animals never learn more than a few letters of the alphabet. Once the pigs cement their status as the educated elite, they use their mental advantage to manipulate the other animals. For example, knowing that the other animals cannot read the Seven Commandments, they revise them whenever they like. The pigs’ intelligence and education allow them to bring the other animals into submission through the use of propaganda and revisionism, and this frustrates the reader as this means the animals have no real way of fighting back against the pigs.
Orwell also utilizes Squealer and propaganda to evoke sympathy for the animals. One example of this would be Orwell’s use of propaganda through Squealer to gain the animals’ support can be seen in his speech denouncing snowball part in the rebellion after he was banished from the farm. Using the animal’s stupidity to his advantage, Squealer played with the minds of all the animals, describing a twisted version of the events of the Battle of the Cowshed. In Squealer’s version of Snowball’s part of the battle, Snowball was planning to “leave the field to the enemy”. Afterwards, Squealer described how Napoleon was the one who “sprang forward with a cry of ‘death to humanity!’ and sank his teeth into Mr. Jones’ leg” when everything was so chaotic. During his speech, Squealer describes everything in so much detail that it “seemed to the animals that they did remember it”. As a result, Squealer has used propaganda to manipulate the memories of the animals so they would believe that Napoleon is the rightful person to trust and Snowball was on the side of the enemy.
Another form of propaganda was when the pigs started to twist the seven commandments, a list of seven rules the animals in animal farm must follow, to their own needs. At the start of the revolution, the sixth of the seven commandments read “No animal shall be killed by any other animal” (p15). However, in order to reason with the animals after killing those who opposed Napoleon, the rule has been changed to “No animal shall be killed by any other animal without cause” (p 61). As a result, Napoleon’s actions for eliminating those animals were justified because the animals thought a few words from the commandment were slipped from memory. Since the other animals were not as clever compared to the pigs and were not as capable of thinking for themselves, the animals used the seven commandments as an agreement to what was right and what was wrong. Therefore, when the pigs changed the seven commandments, the animals did not think badly of Napoleon’s use of cruelty and violence.
Overall, this creates sympathy for the animals as they feel frustration at their sheer naivety, especially as the animals could have easily revolted against the pigs’ oppressive regime. However, the pigs’ use of manipulation and deception silenced any signs of dissent quickly and brutally, and this makes the reader feel anger towards Napoleon and the pigs, and sympathy for the animals.