Jake Norman's Q3 BM

Analytical Essay:

George Orwell’s Animal Farm is a story about The Manor Farm, a farm where all of the livestock are tortured and their goods are taken by humans. At this farm one animal named Old Major, a boar, suggests to the animals on Manor Farm to take up his philosophy of Animalism (humans are bad, treat all animals as you would yourself, and don’t engage in human activities eg. drinking alcohol, trading etc.). He wanted to stage a revolution against farm owner Mr. Jones to achieve a state of equality amongst all animals. Old Major passes away and the farm is taken over by a power-hungry pig named Napoleon. Napoleon is a formidable dictator who rules the animals of “Animal Farm” by oppressing and controlling them along with his right hand man (pig) Squealer, and a pack of ferocious hounds used to protect Napoleon and strike fear into other animals.

The events in the story are narrated in third person by an unnamed omniscient being. Narration of the third person is very important in general to the reader because it allows us to see all of the crucial moments going on at animal farm.  In first person narration, readers sometimes only see events when the characters (narrators) witness an events. Orwell’s use of narration in the third person from an omniscient being allows us as readers to be put in the place of uninformed (unintelligent or naive) animal and figure out on our own what the Pigs’ motives or ideas are.  As readers of this voice we have to make up our own minds about what is happening, what it means and how we feel about it all.

At the beginning of the story, the narrator presents as any typical unnamed and omniscient being would, by narrating descriptions of the setting and characters as well as the thoughts and feelings of several (sometimes all) different characters. As time goes on, the narrator tends to speak about events in a very naive way, almost as if the narrator has become one of the less intelligent animals in the book who are unaware of their oppression and who disregard Napoleon’s evil doing. Jason Black is a developmental editor for novels and is the author of an online article titled, How Your Novel's Point of View Affects Your Characters. In this article Black says that “[Third person narration] is ideal if your goal is to allow the reader to watch everything unfold even though the characters aren’t aware of all that’s going on.” This is exactly what what Orwell does by writing in third person narrative in Animal Farm.

The narrator starts to fall for Napoleon’s propaganda early in the book. One example of this naive point of view is in Chapter Six; pages 26-27 where the character Clover is skeptical of Napoleon and the other pigs for sleeping in beds when she remembers one of the Seven Commandments stating that “no animal shall sleep in a bed.” “Finding herself unable to read more than individual letters, [Clover] fetched Muriel. ‘Muriel,’ she said, ‘read me the Fourth Commandment. Does it not say something about never sleeping in a bed?’ With some difficulty Muriel spelt it out. ‘It says, ’No animal shall sleep in a bed with sheets,’ she announced finally. Curiously enough, Clover had not remembered that the Fourth Commandment mentioned sheets; but as it was there on the wall, it must have done so.” If the reader falls for the ruse of an unbiased third person character, this moment could either have the reader go along with what the narrator is thinking (“if the commandments say it, it must be right”) while a more skeptical reader could have gone back to check the Seven Commandments when they were first made. This decision on whether or not to believe the statement of the narrator affects their trust of both Napoleon, the narrator and even Clover.

The third person narration style is slowly revealed in Chapter Eight, page 41. The reader doesn’t immediately know what caused the sound, the narrator describes a scene occurring one quiet night when a loud crash came from the large barn and was heard by all of the animals. “At the foot of the end wall of the big barn, where the Seven Commandments were written, there lay a ladder broken in two pieces. Squealer, temporarily stunned, was sprawling beside it, and near at hand there lay a lantern, a paintbrush, and an overturned pot of white paint. The dogs immediately made a ring round Squealer, and escorted him back to the farmhouse as soon as he was able to walk. None of the animals could form any idea as to what this meant, except old Benjamin, who nodded his muzzle with a knowing air, and seemed to understand, but would say nothing.” In this paragraph, Orwell has had the narrator give very important clues to help readers figure out what the loud noise was. The narrator does not ever say specifically what happened that caused the noise.  The reader has to figure out on their own what happened.

Orwell also uses the third person to paint a picture of the farm’s condition as well as it’s residents. In Chapter Nine; pages 43-44 he writes;  “Besides, in those days they had been slaves and now they were free, and that made all the difference, as Squealer did not fail to point out.”  This particular statement sounds like it could have been said by either a pig or a non-pig animal, which either way brings the reliability of this statement into question. Since the narrator and Squealer both agree that “in those days they had been slaves and now they were free” anyone who trusts the narrator may also start to believe the things Squealer preaches.

If Orwell were to choose another form like first person narration from the view of a character like Boxer, the strong but foolish stallion, the story would not include the events not witnessed by Boxer. Due to Boxer’s thick-headedness, the narration of the book, if it were told from Boxer’s perspective, would include bias on what the animals think about Napoleon and crucial moments would not have been explained in full detail. In Black’s article he refers to the to third person narration as if it is “jumping into and out of different character’s heads, giving the reader a much more difficult job in forming any close emotional ties with the characters.” In this case, having Boxer narrate the story in first person has the potential of the reader connecting with Boxer. A reader seeing Boxer as the trustworthy protagonist would believe what he says about Animal Farm and would have a very skewed idea of the plot.

York Notes, an online study guide program for English literature, says the third person narration in Animal Farm provides “the animals’ interpretation of events” and the narrator is  “detached.” The York Notes also point out, “Orwell is careful to use phrases that leave us in no doubt about what is happening. . . the animals might not be aware of what is going on but it is obvious to [the reader].” It is this usage of bread crumb trails that allows the reader to figure out on their own what they personally feel about the story, the animals actions, Napoleon and what everything means.

Comments (1)

Jaime Vaquero-Garcia (Student 2017)
Jaime Vaquero-Garcia

One thing that I didn't know was that Farm Animals had right, and it very cool that the Old Major created a right for all the farm animal's. The one funny thing was that the farm animals can't do the what humans do, drinking, trading, etc. One technique that I will use or "steal" from you us to describe a little more about the narrator and how important he is to the readers.