Role of Songs, Slogans, and Rituals

By Wesley Viera, Sean Wang, and Luka Zrnic

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Throughout the progression of George Orwell's Animal Farm, songs, slogans, and rituals influence the collective thinking of the animals, and shape their view towards their situation on the farm, to meet the desired view of their leader at the time.

Overview

Songs, slogans, and rituals strongly shaped the outcome of Animal Farm. The song, "The Beasts of England," served as an anthem to unite the animals against Jones. It was later used to form a sort of solidarity between the animals. The ritual of giving the animals Sundays off reminded them of their "improved lives" and gave them a time of reflection. That is why it was later removed. The sheep and Boxer had various slogans that served as encouragement to the Animals at first, and later disguised Napoleon's tyranny.

Vocabulary

  • Anthem- a usually rousing popular song that typifies or is identified with a particular subculture, movement, or point of view.

  • Ritual- prescribed, established, or ceremonial acts or features collectively, as in religious services.

  • Slogan- a distinctive cry, phrase, or motto of any party, group, manufacturer, or person; catchword or catch phrase.

QUOTES

“FOUR LEGS GOOD, TWO LEGS BAD, was inscribed on the end wall of the barn, above the Seven Commandments and in bigger letters.” (Orwell, 15)

Although the commandments were hard for some animals to memorize, it became easy to have a unified motive and reasoning when it was simplified into one line. It clarified the cause of the Rebellion and helped remind the animals that under the new leadership, no matter what the conditions were, life was better.

“‘No animal shall kill any other animal without cause.’ Somehow or other, the last two words had slipped out of the animals’ memory. But they saw now that the Commandment had not been violated; for clearly there was good reason for killing the traitors who had leagued themselves with Snowball.” (Orwell, 38)

Many of the animals cannot clearly remember events during the Revolution, and so they are much easier for Napoleon to manipulate. In this case, Squealer adds 2 words to the phrase to justify Napoleon’s act of extinguishing the influence of Snowball. The animals feel there is definitely something wrong, but after reading the modified commandment, they believe they only forgot that specific detail, and no longer think Napoleon’s actions are wrong.
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“There were more songs, more speeches, more processions. Napoleon had command that once a week there should be held something called a Spontaneous Demonstration … and the caption, “Long live Comrade Napoleon!” Afterwards there were recitations of poems composed in Napoleon’s honour, and a speech by Squealer…” (Orwell, 49)

Every week, the animals had to march around the farm, carrying a banner promoting Napoleon, as well as reciting poems promoting Napoleon. This gathering also served to remind the animals that they were “free,” and it helped them forget their suffering. With the repetition of songs and poems promoting Napoleon, the animals couldn’t think Napoleon was anything but evil.

Take-Away / Conclusion

It is without a doubt that Orwell’s inclusion of songs, slogans, and rituals among the animals in the novel presented a drastic change in the way they conducted themselves, and ultimately the plot of the novel. Their purpose is key in the uniting of the animals as a common body, as displayed by Napoleon's many attempts to create a uniform farm through these psychological methods and elements. With a common endeavor that can pull together both the farm, and its inhabitants as a whole, Orwell truly conveys the ideals and “ways” of communism that his satirical masterpiece is meant to.

Discussion Questions

  1. How was the effectiveness of the songs slogans and rituals similar to real life. Was it somewhat exaggerated?
  2. What are some songs, slogans and rituals that have impacted you or someone else? (Realistic or fictitious)
  3. Is the Pledge of Allegiance a form of propaganda? Is it positive or negative? Should it be included in schools?
  4. Why do slogans and anthems have such a strong effect on people? Do you think they better fit along with Communist or Capitalist values?

Bibliography