Literature And Composition 1H-4
07 December 2017
The Power Of Persuasion
According to Cathy Benjamin, a reporter for Mental Floss, sixty percent of people can’t go ten minutes without telling a lie (Benjamin 1). Persuasion can be a large part of dishonesty and lying. If you can't convince someone of your lie then they won't believe you. Throughout the past, persuasion and dishonesty has won wars and started them. It has made both friends and enemies alike. So it is obvious that persuasion is a powerful weapon in anyone’s hands. Shiv Khera, an Indian author said “There are good leaders who actively guide and bad leaders who actively misguide. Hence, leadership is about persuasion and presentation.” The novella Animal Farm by George Orwell (1946) is about an animal uprising. Napoleon, a pig from the farm started the book as one of the leaders of the rebellion against power and ended the book with all the power as the clear leader of the farm. He is the kind of leader who actively misguides his followers. You might even call him a dictator. Yet how he keeps his control is due to multiple things that can be rolled into one idea: persuasion. Persuasion, in Napoleon’s case, includes propaganda through Squealer, threats and violence, and changing the past for his benefit.
The way in which Napoleon, through Squealer, makes use of propaganda proves that propaganda is one way Napoleon keeps control of his followers. Propaganda is a mixture of truth and lies and can be very misleading. In Animal Farm, it is clear that the pigs are smart—smarter than all the other animals. Squealer is one of these. He is Napoleon’s right hoof man and spreader of all propaganda on the farm. After Snowball, another pig that was leading with Napoleon, was driven from the farm and changes were made, Squealer was sent to reassure the animals. He said, “Comrades, I trust that every animal here appreciates the sacrifice that Comrade Napoleon has made in taking this extra labour upon himself. Do not imagine, comrades, that leadership is a pleasure! On the contrary, it is a deep and heavy responsibility.” (Orwell 69). In effect, he is saying that leadership is a struggle and that Napoleon is working very hard for all the animals, when in reality the pigs didn't work at all. This is all just a big lie, exactly what propaganda should be. In a way, Squealer is twisting all the other animals thoughts around. He says that he trusts that they appreciate Napoleon. This makes them think, “well of course I appreciate Napoleon,” because no one wants to be the one to stand up and say, “I don't appreciate Napoleon. What has he done for us?” No one wants to be that person. Later, Squealer is sent to convince the animals again. Orwell writes, “but Squealer spoke so persuasively,...that they accepted his explanation without further questions” (Orwell 72). This also show how ignorant the other animals are. They just accept what Napoleon through Squealer is saying only because of a persuasive voice. And Squealer is very persuasive. There are many times in the book when Squealer convinces the animals of something and he is even described as being able to “turn black into white” (Orwell 36). It is clear that Squealer is a very powerful weapon of propaganda, and through propaganda, persuasion for Napoleon. Napoleon, through Squealer, uses propaganda to control his followers on the farm.
The vicious dogs that Napoleon has control over and the way that he threatens animals with physical harm, is one way that Napoleon keeps control of the animals on the farm. The dogs that Napoleon took and raised soon became big, terrifying creatures. And that's how they were meant to end up. When Napoleon took them from their mother at a young age, he planned for them to be both his protectors and the enforcers of his laws. When we first see them in the book, they are the ones who chase Snowball off the farm. In a meeting in the barn, when four young pigs voice their dissent, “the dogs sitting round Napoleon let out deep, menacing growls, and the pigs fell silent and sat down again” (Orwell 69). In these scene the dogs are the enforcers. The pigs didn't like what Napoleon was saying but when the dogs start growling, they shut up. The pigs are obviously scared of the dogs. And if the pigs, the most powerful animals on the farm, are scared of the dogs, isn't the one with control of the dogs, Napoleon, even more powerful than they are? And if Napoleon has control of the dogs, he also has a way to control others. If another animal is out of line, all Napoleon has to do is threaten them with the dogs. There is a time when he does use the dogs to kill countless other animals. Napoleon calls another meeting to find out which animals had been “helping” Snowball. The four pigs from earlier were dragged forward and, being scared by the dogs, confessed to everything (be it true or false). Orwell writes, “When they had finished their confession, the dogs promptly tore their throats out, and in a terrible voice Napoleon demanded whether any other animal had anything to confess” (Orwell 93). This shows that not only did Napoleon use the dogs to threaten and control the other animals, but he also acted upon those threats (after this quote was the slaughtering of more animals including chickens, geese, and sheep). And after this happens, the animals are even more afraid of the dogs. If Napoleon wanted his followers to follow him because of their loyalty and respect for him, not because they were afraid of him (or the dogs), he wouldn't have placed himself in a position that made him seem distant and far from all of the other animals. The distance is caused by the violence of the dogs. The threats of violence from the dogs and the fear they create are one way that Napoleon controls the animals.
Because Napoleon twists the past for his own benefit to make him seem more infallible, he has better control of the animals on the farm. When the rebellion against the humans at the beginning of the book is over, seven commandments are written on the barn. However it seems that as you progress through the book, the commandments seem to change. For example, “No animal shall sleep in a bed” (Orwell 43) became “No animal shall sleep in a bed with sheets” (Orwell 79). This commandment does not give the pigs a great deal of power, but this next one does. “All animals are equal” (Orwell 43) turned into “All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others” (Orwell 133). This eventually becomes the only commandment and all all others are abolished. The pigs now have total control over the farm because of this commandment because they can claim that they are more equal than the other animals. The way it was before, all animals were the same, but now the pigs are more than the others. Napoleon also uses this to suppress any thoughts of rebellion against him for Snowball. Boxer, a horse, thinks he remembers Snowball as a hero of the Farm, but Squealer quashes this with “Our leader, Comrade Napoleon, announced Squealer, speaking very slowly and firmly, has stated categorically – categorically, Comrade – that Snowball was Jones's agent from the very beginning” (Orwell 91). Actually, Boxer was right and Snowball was a hero, but this just goes to show what Napoleon will do for power. He lies to his followers about what actually happens, just to stay in power. He “changed” the past so that he would stay in power for a better future. Because Napoleon changes the past for his benefit, he stays in power and has control of his followers.
So, sixty percent of people can't go ten minutes without telling a lie. That means that if you go have a conversation with almost anyone, they will probably have lied to you in the next ten minutes and maybe more. Napoleon must be part of that sixty percent, because his lies and deception are some that occur everyday. Animal Farm is an allegory of life in many different ways. Orwell wrote it as a political allegory, but it also is an allegory of life at school, at work, and at home. The stories always end the same: with people in power lying to control others. They spread those lies through gossip, through propaganda, and through various other means. People persuade others to do things that they may or may not want to do. Napoleon kept control of the farm through some of these kinds of persuasion. He used propaganda, threats and violence and the use of false history to keep control of the farm. Whether or not you agree that persuasion is good or bad, persuasion can accomplish almost anything, good or bad.
Benjamin, Kathy. "60% of People Can't Go 10 Minutes Without Lying." Mental Floss, 7 May
2012, p. 1, mentalfloss.com/article/30609/60-people-cant-go-10-minutes-without-lying.
Orwell, George. Animal Farm. Signet Classics, 1996.
"Persuasion Quotes." Brainy Quote, 11 Dec. 2017, www.brainyquote.com/topics/persuasion.
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