Analysis Essay: Irony and Satire in Animal Farm



In the book Animal Farm, the concept of communication is best illustrated by the text, this can be attributed to the author George Orwell's effective uses of satire. Satire is a technique employed by writers to criticize an individual or a society by using humour, irony and so on. By using satirical devices like humour and irony, Orwell effectively communicates with the readers that power should never be in the hands of a small group of elites, and when that happens a totalitarian government like the one in the Soviet Union will emerge as a tyranny that ruthlessly exploits its people.

The irony is one of the satirical devices Orwell employed to illustrate the tyrannical rule of the elites in a communist totalitarian government. The irony is about contradictory statements or situations of which what appears to be true is different from what is true in reality. There are many examples of irony in the book. In chapter 9, Boxer collapses. Because he has still worked relentlessly for the construction of the windmill despite injuries. Boxer is the most diligent worker and most dogmatic to the pigs, but instead of sending him to hospital as promised, the pigs send him to slaughter. That makes a situational irony because the readers might expect the pigs taking good care of Boxer since he has devoted so much into the construction of the windmill and he is the most loyal one to the pigs; the pigs' betrayal to him is clearly not expected by the readers. Boxer represents the working class in the Soviet Union. By using this situation irony, Orwell tells us that in a communist totalitarian tyranny, the hard-working and loyalty of the workers will not bring them a better future; because the only thing a communist tyranny does is exploiting its workers to increase the production output. After sending away Boxer, Squealer lies to the rest of the animals that Boxer dies in hospital. Clearly, Squealer is lying. However, the rest of the animals believe in him because they are too foolish to detect Squealer's lie. That is dramatic irony because the readers at this point know that Squealer is lying, but the animals do not; dramatic irony occurs when the readers have more information than the characters in the book. By using this dramatic irony, Orwell makes Boxer's story even more tragic because the rest of the animals fail to know about what happens to him. Orwell employes this dramatic irony to emphasize the point that in a totalitarian communist regime, the suppression of education made ordinary people unable to detect the ruling class elites' deceptions and hence never stand up against their unjust actions. 

Also, the story of the Animal Farm as a whole is situational irony. At the beginning of the story in chapter 1, Old Major tells the animals that "All animals are equal"; after the victory of the revolution, Snowball writes this into the Seven Commandments. But at the end of the story, which is chapter 10, the Seven Commandments is changed to a single statement: "all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others". The statement is an oxymoron because the idea of all animals being equal contradicts with the idea of some animals being higher than others; an oxymoron is a statement with contradictory terms. However, this reflects the situation on the farm: pigs are more privileged than other animals. Animals fail to achieve Old Major's hope. This is situational irony because what happens at the end is completely different from Old Major's dream, and readers' expectation at the beginning. The situational irony of the whole story demonstrates the fact that a communist totalitarian government's tyranny goes against the original good intention of the communist revolution. With irony, Orwell makes the novel effective in communicating with the readers of the tyrannical characteristics of a communist totalitarian government ruled by a group of elites. 

Orwell also uses humour as a satirical device to ridicule and criticize the ruling of a communist totalitarian government. Humor is a satirical device that intends to induce amusement or laughter. Orwell used humor when telling the story of Napoleon drinking alcohol. In chapter 8, pigs find a case of whisky on the farm. The pigs begin to enjoy the whiskey; Napoleon is seen wearing Mr Jones' bowler hat. No longer after, it is announced by Squealer that Napoleon is dying, animals' reaction to is "With tears in their eyes they asked one another what they should do if their Leader were taken away from them". But it is later announced that Napoleon miraculously recovers. A drunken pig with a hat is a funny sight; Orwell uses humor to illustrate the elites' attempts to earning exclusive privileges for themselves in a communist totalitarian regime. Animals' reaction to Napoleon's "dying" is also humorous, because it is ridiculous that they are worrying for a dictator who treats them as slaves. Orwell uses animals reactions to demonstrate that an oppressive totalitarian dictator is able to earn the love and esteem of the people because they fail to realize that he exploits them. After Napoleon's recovery, the animals find one night Squealer fall down the ladder when modifying the fifth Commandment: "No animals shall drink alcohol to "No animals shall drink alcohol to excess". This is another example of humour. While the readers may be amused by the silliness of the pig falling down a ladder, pigs' action of modifying the Seven Commandments in favour of themselves has also been made memorable. This example with humour illustrates a totalitarian communist government's ruling elites' changing of the rules to make them be benefiting them the most. 

At the end of chapter 10, or in other words at the end of the story, the pigs and human farm owners are having a meeting to discuss the oppression toward the working creatures on their farms; other animals peek their meeting through a window. There is a humorous description of the situation: "The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again: but already it was impossible to say which was which". It is humour because it's funny to think of the animals' inability to distinguish between pigs and man. This use of humour highlights that pigs begin to resemble humans: they are doing the same thing as humans, such as wearing clothes, walking on two and above all, tyrannizing over other animals. Orwell uses this scene to tell us that after the revolution, the dictator and elites who took power began to abuse power and oppress the people the same way as before the revolution. With the uses of humour, Orwell made his novel Animal Farm effective in communicating with the readers about elites' abuses of power in a communist totalitarian regime.

In the book Animal Farm, the concept of communication is best illustrated by the text, because of George Orwell's effective uses of satire. With the utilization of satirical devices like irony and humour, Orwell made Animal Farm effective in communicating with the reader that power should never be in the hands of a small group of elites, and when that happens a totalitarian government like the one in the Soviet Union will emerge as a tyranny that ruthlessly exploits its people.