Irony in Animal Farm: Examples & Analysis Essay
The Animal Farm irony is used by George Orwell to condemn human vices such as insatiable hunger for power. The animals in the story overthrow the people and later on the pigs bring back the offenses for which the humans were overthrown! Old major explains in his speech the abuse inflicted upon animals by the humankind. He said that men reaped where they did not sow. He argued that the animals would be better off without the humans and thus supported the revolution. The animals in their revolution had a dream where all the animals would help each other. It is ironic that this dream does not come true. The pigs make themselves in charge of the others and start to steal milk and apples. Napoleon, the pigs, and snowball start power struggles. Snowball is kicked off by Napoleon who is consolidating his power and influence. The pigs and snowball start struggling for power and the animals are divided. Napoleon starts using dogs as his security and executing animals such as Boxer, his loyal worker. The animals end up mistreating each other worse than men had ever done (Booth 1974).
Different types of irony are used throughout the book to condemn vices in the Russian community such as leaders altering policies and rules to suit their own selfish needs. The story starts with high hopes for the community as animals revolutionize society. Later on, the hunger for power changes things for worse. Verbal irony is used to illustrate various concepts in the story. To illustrate this, the commandments that are given as a code that every animal should follow is altered secretly when it dawns on the pigs how good it is to live as humans rather than animals. Another example is used when the animals start drinking, the statement of no animal is allowed to drink alcohol soon changes to no animals are allowed to take excess alcohol. Again, when the pigs start sleeping in beds, the statement of no animal sleeping in bed changes to an animal should sleep on a bed with sheets. Another example is when Napoleon said that it was impossible to bring back the remains of Boxer. It turns out the real reason as to why they could not bring him back is because he had been sold to the glue factory after sustaining an injury! It is ironic as it seems a very sad thing that Boxer can no longer be helped. In a real sense, he had been sold and thus no sadness deserves this situation. Again, the animals have no idea that Boxer had been sold to the glue factory.
Situational irony is also used to point out hypocrisy and selfishness in the community. To illustrate this, the pigs soon start walking. This is something they had vowed never to do before they had risen to power. The pigs also began to take alcoholic drinks. This is something they had sworn not to do. It is ironic to see the pigs drinking after they had condemned the humans for this form of behavior. Now that the pigs are powerful, they find it okay to do the same things they loathed and condemned humans for. This shows their hypocrisy. Another illustration is found at the memorial banquet to honor Boxer’s death. The irony is that the pigs are celebrating his death. In fact, they bought liquor with money from Boxer’s sale. It is very ironic that as the other animals are grieving, the pigs are shamelessly celebrating his death and using his money for their own pleasure. This selfish of the pigs and a display of disregard for the value of life.
Dramatic irony is used in the story to illustrate the ignorance of people in society. This refers to situations that the reader knows the truth when the characters no idea about what is happening. For example, Boxer is sent to be slaughtered but the animals don’t know this. They trust Squealer when he tells that Boxer has been sent to the hospital. The reader, however, knows that Boxer has been sent to the slaughterhouse and not to the hospital. Additionally, when the animals find Squealer lying by the barn looking stunned with an overturned bottle of paint, they do not realize that he has been altering the commandments. The best example of dramatic irony is at the end of the story. It is stated that the onlooker was unable to differentiate between a man and the pig. To the animals, it seems they cannot tell the difference but this is clearly well seen and understood by readers (Orwell 2003).
The subtitle of the story is also ironic. It is described as a fairy tale as if it is a light-hearted fable with a magical view and happy ending. In the book, the classic quote of meet the new boss is very ironic. The new boss has the same characteristics as the old boss! The animals overthrew the humans for a new revolution. They expected things to get better when they rule their own, by upholding their commitment to work together for the common good. This doesn’t happen. Napoleon’s hunger for power forces all the animals to work harder than they ever did in their previous farm. The pigs who were pretending to work hard became the new human supervisors. The idea of true revolution is thus satirized. The general result is a change that has no difference at all as was experienced in Soviet Russia.
Booth, Wayne C. A rhetoric of irony. Vol. 641. University of Chicago Press, 1974.Print
Orwell, George, and A. M. Heath. Animal farm and 1984. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2003.Print