Throughout his career, Orwell explored how politicians manipulate language in an age of mass media. In Animal Farm, the silver-tongued pig Squealer abuses language to justify Napoleon’s actions and policies to the proletariat by whatever means seem necessary. By radically simplifying language—as when he teaches the sheep to bleat “Four legs good, two legs better!”—he limits the terms of debate. By complicating language unnecessarily, he confuses and intimidates the uneducated, as when he explains that pigs, who are the “brainworkers” of the farm, consume milk and apples not for pleasure, but for the good of their comrades. In this latter strategy, he also employs jargon (“tactics, tactics”) as well as a baffling vocabulary of false and impenetrable statistics, engendering in the other animals both self-doubt and a sense of hopelessness about ever accessing the truth without the pigs’ mediation. Squealer’s lack of conscience and unwavering loyalty to his leader, alongside his rhetorical skills, make him the perfect propagandist for any tyranny. Squealer’s name also fits him well: squealing, of course, refers to a pig’s typical form of vocalization, and Squealer’s speech defines him. At the same time, to squeal also means to betray, aptly evoking Squealer’s behavior with regard to his fellow animals.
More characters from Animal Farm