Squealer (Animal Farm)
||It has been suggested that this article be merged into Animal Farm. (Discuss) Proposed since March 2014.|
Throughout the novel Squealer is highly skilled at making speeches to the animals. He is also one of the leaders of the farm. Under the rule of Napoleon, Squealer does things to manipulate the animals. Squealer represents Vyacheslav Molotov who was Stalin's protégée and head of Communist propaganda. It is also possible that Squealer represents the Soviet Newspaper, "Pravda". This paper was Stalin's key to propaganda in the communist times, and was very powerful to proletarians of the time (proletarians being Boxer, the horse)
Squealer takes the central role in making announcements to the animals, as Napoleon appears less and less often as the book progresses. Near the start of the book, it is said that he was very convincing and could turn "black into white". This is foreshadowing several euphemisms he uses to maintain the control of the barn through difficult times. He is Napoleon's (Stalin's) key to propaganda for the farm (Soviet Union).
Breaking Commandments and telling lies
Throughout the book, Napoleon and Squealer break the Seven Commandments, the tenets on which governance of the farm is based. To prevent the animals from suspecting them, Squealer preys on the animals' confusion and alters the Commandments from time to time as the need arises. Squealer falls off a ladder while trying to change one of the commandments in the night. A few days later it is discovered that Squealer was altering the commandment regarding alcohol which suggests the reason he fell off the ladder was because he was drunk at the time. Orwell uses Squealer mainly to show how the increasingly totalitarian and corrupt regime uses propaganda and deceit to get its ideas accepted and implemented by the people. In the end, Squealer reduces the Seven Commandments into one commandment, that "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others".
A point is made by how Napoleon dismisses the education of the mature animals as a lost case while Snowball attempts to educate them all (he does focus on the key ideals of Animalism, but nevertheless) and starts many committees which are apparently for the good of the entire Farm — Napoleon is explicitly stated to have 'no interest' in these committees, instead snatching up newborn dogs to educate them in seclusion. He takes advantage of their malleable minds and molds them to his liking — the dogs show up later as a secret police. Meanwhile, Snowball's programs are generally failures. As the newer generations are brought up with propaganda and the old generations are ignored, Squealer begins making changes to the Seven Commandments. The animals experience a vague feeling of unease, and when Clover and Muriel ponder the changes, they are told that they have simply forgotten — and they accept this easily, which is helped along by the growling dogs that accompany the pigs everywhere. Benjamin alone appears to understand what is happening, though he never acts. If asked, he says that donkeys live a long time, and that "none of you has ever seen a dead donkey". True to his cynical nature, he continues to believe that life never gets better. He is briefly outraged by Boxer's death, but becomes ever more cynical when Squealer again convinces the denizens of the Farm that Boxer was only taken to a hospital.
In the end, this works out to Squealer's advantage. Terror and silver-tongued oration fool nearly everyone, and the sole person who sees through these fronts is simply too cynical to do anything.
This reflected Orwell's view that events in Russia following the Revolution of 1917 had followed an unwelcome path, and that the egalitarian socialism he believed in had there become a brutal dictatorship built around a cult of personality and enforced by terror and lies. Orwell wrote, "All people who are morally sound have known since about 1931 that the Russian régime stinks.' Squealer as the chief propagandist of the regime is early prominent in the story and Orwell delineates the path down which small lies lead to bigger lies. Orwell regarded propaganda as a feature of all modern governments but especially prominent in totalitarian regimes, which depended on it. In The Prevention of Literature (1946) he described 'organised lying' as a crucial element of totalitarian states.
- Orwell to Dickens scholar, Humphrey House, letter 1940 , quoted in Cambridge Companion to Orwell, p.137
- Cambridge Companion to Orwell, p.142