L'évolution créatrice


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Henri Bergson

Chapter Seven

Chapter seven helps highlight the impact of outside forces on a political system. The winter is a very difficult one, which places Animal Farm under serious distress. However, Napoleon has placed himself in a position in which he cannot be honest with the animals about the conditions the farm is facing. If everything is better under his control, which is the position that he has steadfastly maintained since evicting Snowball from the farm, then the farm should have abundant resources to feed and care for all of the animals. A lack of such resources would reveal that Napoleon is not capable of leading the farm without difficulties. While such a question may seem reasonable in the face of something so outside of one’s control as the weather, this type of question would completely undermine Napoleon’s role as a dictator. Therefore, he maintains an image of abundance to the animals, while scrambling behind the scenes to arrange for the resources needed to sustain the animals on the farm.

Despite Napoleon’s machinations, the animals begin to feel the threat of the harsh winter. There is not enough food to keep the animals at their current ration levels. Therefore, food rations are cut, which places many of the animals at risk of starvation. Of course, the pigs are never threatened with starvation, leading many of the animals to examine the inequities between the treatment of the various animals. However, Napoleon uses this impending starvation as a way to introduce another type of exploitation to the farm. Napoleon informs the animals that he intends to sell eggs to the neighbors. On the one hand, eggs are eggs, and it would be overreaching to suggest that Orwell meant the eggs as an analogy for forced child labor or actual slavery. On the other hand, eggs are not simply a product created by the hens; they are the means by which the chickens procreate, so it is important to examine those implications when considering whether Napoleon had the right to sell the eggs. The hens do protest Napoleon’s action and actually engage in a revolt. However, Napoleon moves in and swiftly crushes their protest. Not only does he manage to threaten and intimidate the hens, but he also effectively silences any animal who opposes him.

In addition, Napoleon and Squealer concentrate on spreading propaganda during the difficult winter. Despite no evidence that Snowball has actually been anywhere near Animal Farm, they begin to spread the rumor that Snowball is conspiring against the farm. Snowball is transformed from a hero who helped develop Animal Farm into the greatest threat to its existence. In fact, Squealer engages in more historical revision by telling the animals that Snowball was helping Mr. Jones at the Battle of Cowshed. This type of change is necessary to support Napoleon’s treatment of Snowball and is reminiscent of the type of allegations made against those who threatened Stalin’s regime. However, the animals, which heretofore have more or less accepted Squealer’s version of Snowball’s participation in the Rebellion, are unwilling to accept this version of the truth. Many of them fought valiantly in the Battle of Cowshed, and they recall that Napoleon was not fighting at the front lines, but Snowball was. They remember Snowball as an actual hero and question Squealer’s version of events that would turn Snowball into a conspirator with Mr. Jones. Napoleon brings an end to their questioning by alleging that some of the pigs and hens are traitors, as well, and that they have been conspiring with Snowball. Though there is no merit to his accusations, they serve a purpose for Napoleon, who has his dogs kill those he has accused of being traitors. The message to the animals on the farm is clear: Disagreeing with Napoleon is literally life-threatening. While the animals clearly do not accept Napoleon’s version of past events, they are absolutely unwilling to question him about them, fearing fatal consequences if they do. Of course, this fear is one of the primary means of control in a dictatorship; the people have to worry that the consequences of dissent will greatly outweigh the consequences of passive acceptance.

One of the other elements of chapter seven is that Napoleon becomes more and more of a recluse, which fits in with the behavior of dictators, particularly during that time period. When he does appear in public, it is with a significant amount of ceremony, which serves as a reminder to the other animals that he is somehow different from and better than them. In addition, by keeping out of sight of the animals on the farm, Napoleon removes his behavior from scrutiny. They cannot compare his actual behavior with the ideals he helped establish if they cannot see his actual behavior.

Chapter Eight

Chapter eight shows Napoleon becoming even more reclusive, which gives Squealer an increasingly prominent position on the farm. Squealer is revealed to be a manipulator who changes the Commandments—not only to the reader, but also the animals on the farm. In fact, he is found changing the Commandments on the barn. However, the animals have been conditioned to accept Squealer’s version of events. Therefore, even though they know that he has been dishonest with him, and even though they can perceive negative changes in conditions on the farm, they seem to accept Squealer’s propaganda about how life is continuously improving on Animal Farm.

While Squealer has grown increasingly visible and prominent on the farm, Napoleon has grown more reclusive. His actions have shown that he considers himself different from the other animals. He no longer lives in the farmhouse with the other pigs, but instead keeps separate quarters for himself. His birthday becomes a public holiday, which is analogous to the changing of the name of St. Petersburg to Stalingrad. He eats on the finest of the dishes at the farm. Moreover, he begins drinking whisky, despite the fact that the animals blamed much of Mr. Jones’ neglect on his drinking habit. All of these actions help preface Napoleon’s transition to a human-like state.

While Napoleon has less and less of a physical presence on the farm, he begins engaging in increasing interactions with neighboring farms. This mirrors Stalin’s increased political activity with Russia’s neighbors as his dictatorship grew more and more certain in Russia. In fact, Napoleon even does business with Mr. Frederick, who had previously earned the animals’ scorn with his reputation for misusing the animals on his farm. The problem is that Napoleon attempts to carry on relations with various neighboring farms in the same manner that he carried out his relationships at the farm: He attempts to pit the neighboring farms against one another. However, while the reader is privy to all of the negotiations, the farmers are not, so they are not aware of what Napoleon is doing. Furthermore, Napoleon keeps the business dealings secret from the animals on Animal Farm because of their objections to him doing business with Mr. Frederick. The reader is left without any real understanding of how Napoleon feels about any of the neighboring farmers or even whether he has any opinion of them at all beyond what they can do to further his personal goals for Animal Farm.

Perhaps the most significant event in chapter eight, one that should be a marker of success for the animals, is the completion of the windmill. However, the animals do not get to celebrate this victory because it is surrounded by tragedy. The animals discover that Napoleon has been dealing with Mr. Frederick in secret. Moreover, they discover that Mr. Frederick has engaged in treachery. He gave Napoleon forged bank notes with the plan of taking over Animal Farm. Obviously, Mr. Frederick’s behavior must be compared to Hitler and his intention to take over Europe, with the accompanying threat he posed to Revolutionary-era Russia. Moreover, Frederick has aligned allies among the men. When Mr. Frederick comes to possess the farm, he and his men come armed and use their weapons against the animals. They are more successful than the men were in the Battle of the Cowshed. Not only do they manage to gain possession of the large pasture, but they also destroy the windmill that represents so much of the animals’ efforts since the Rebellion. This action infuriates the animals, who see the windmill as a symbol of what they have been able to accomplish working together. Though the animals do not have weapons like Mr. Frederick and his men, they continue to battle with the invading men. They are able to drive them from the land and retake the large pasture. However, this battle is fundamentally different than the Battle of Cowshed. The animals suffer significant losses. Moreover, there is a feeling that the battle could have been avoided had Napoleon not tried to engage in business with Mr. Frederick, which was forbidden under the original Seven Commandments.

Perhaps the most significant outcome of the Battle of Windmill is that Boxer is seriously injured in the fight. Keeping in mind that Boxer has always been a symbol of the proletariat, his injury signals a serious blow to Animal Farm. In addition, while Napoleon declares a victory and orders mandatory celebration and ceremony for those who fell during the battle, the animals do not share in the celebratory mood. The animals seem to sense that the possibility for Animal Farm to be run by all of the animals in some type of Socialist utopia has passed.

Chapter Nine

Chapter nine sees more fundamental changes on the farm. The animals no longer seem hopeful that life on the farm is improving or will change for them during their lifetimes. They are also being pressed harder and harder to work. Not only do they have their daily work, but they also struggle to rebuild the windmill. Boxer, who was seriously injured in the Battle of Windmill, remains one of the hardest workers on the farm. However, like the other animals, Boxer sees a continuous degradation of his daily living conditions. The animals, except for the pigs, experience another reduction in rations, which makes them consistently hungry. While Mr. Jones did neglect to feed them on occasion, and only fed them what they needed to eat, there is no reason to believe that the animals were consistently hungry when he ran the farm. Therefore, there is no question to the reader that the animals’ actual living conditions are dramatically worse under Animal Farm than they were under Mr. Jones.

In contrast, the pigs continue to see an elevation in their living conditions. For example, the growing number of piglets means that the animals divert precious resources to the building of a new school. Moreover, the pigs begin to enact Jim Crow-like rules for the animals’ interactions with the pigs. For example, animals are to yield the right of way to pigs. The pigs also begin wearing green ribbons to distinguish themselves from the other animals, which is, of course, unnecessary, since the fact that they are pigs already separates them from the other animals. The green ribbons can only be seen as a way of asserting not just difference, but superiority. Finally, the pigs begin brewing beer for their own use, which not only violates Old Major’s admonition not to drink alcohol, but also diverts additional resources (the barley) away from the rest of the animals.

The elevated status of the pigs is a foundation upon which Napoleon’s ridiculous self-adoration rests. Napoleon declares that Animal Farm is a republic—which, of course, it is not, as the power does not reside with the citizens. Moreover, Napoleon declares himself president of the Republic of Animal Farm; again, this action is both ironic and deceptive, since a person cannot truly declare himself president of a republic. Napoleon also requires the animals to engage in adoration of him. While he has always encouraged them to celebrate him through parades and songs, they grow more frequent and essentially become mandatory. Animals have legitimate reasons to fear the consequences for failing to participate.

One of the more interesting changes in chapter nine is the return of Moses to Animal Farm. Moses was initially treated as a traitor and did actually work as a spy for Mr. Jones. His role when Mr. Jones was in charge was to distract the animals from the misery of their daily lives by giving them hope of a better life in the afterlife. While the animals do not understand what appears to be a show of forgiveness or altruism by Napoleon when he allows Moses to return, it is clear that Napoleon intends to use Moses in the same way that Mr. Jones used him: to keep the animals from realizing the extent of their subjugation. Of course, given Marx’s critical view of religion, it is clear that Moses’ talk of Sugarcandy Mountain is not intended as a means of legitimate hope for the animals, but as a way of controlling them.

The most troubling aspect of chapter nine is how the pigs treat Boxer. Despite being grievously wounded in the Battle of Windmill, Boxer continues to work harder and harder. He literally works himself toward death. Squealer tells the animals that Boxer will be going to the hospital to get better. This makes all of the animals a little uneasy, as hospitals are controlled by people, and sending Boxer to the hospital will place him at the mercy of their enemies. However, Squealer tries to convince them that it is because of Boxer’s exalted status on Animal Farm that he needs to go to the hospital and be cured. However, the pigs’ real plans for Boxer may be the greatest deception on Animal Farm. When the truck comes to pick Boxer up from Animal Farm, it is not an ambulance, but a truck from the slaughterhouse. Benjamin, who was able to master reading and writing, sees the sign on the truck and tries to get the animals to intervene on Boxer’s behalf to prevent his slaughter. However, Squealer is able to subdue the animals, and the truck carries Boxer away to the slaughterhouse. A few days later, Squealer relates how Boxer has died in the hospital, when the reality is that the pigs were not content to wring every bit of value from Boxer that they could during his lifetime, but also literally profited off of his death. The scenario with Boxer is not directly analogous to conditions under Stalin, but they are reminiscent of conditions in Nazi Germany under Hitler. It is said that Hitler allowed the use of skin and hair from concentration camp murder victims to be used in the construction of furniture that was sold for the benefit of his government. It is impossible to ignore the parallels between that behavior and Napoleon’s treatment of Boxer.

Chapter Ten

The book ends several years after Boxer’s death. In the time since the Rebellion, the animals have purchased more fields and have completed another windmill. However, the windmill is not used as Snowball envisioned it would be used, but is instead utilized to increase the profitability of the farm. Napoleon has been transformed further from an animal and more like a person. However, that does not mean that Animal Farm is unsuccessful by all objective measures. On the contrary, as a farm, it is actually quite successful and has become very profitable for the pigs. Still, only the pigs and the dogs have benefited from the farm’s prosperity. Animal Farm is profitable, but the living conditions for all of the animals except for the pigs and the dogs have not improved. The animals believe that they are free because they live on the only animal-run farm in England, but they are living in a type of self-imposed slavery. In fact, as Napoleon has increased his interactions with the surrounding humans, the humans come to tour the farm. They note that Napoleon has managed to get more out of his animals in exchange for less food than the humans can manage. In other words, the animals’ living conditions are inferior to the animals on neighboring human-run farms. Despite this inequity, the animals continue to be inspired by “Beasts of England.” However, there is a recognition that the song no longer really applies to Animal Farm; the animals would not sing it, even while it continued to inspire them.

Perhaps the most troubling change is that the pigs are continuing their transformation toward personhood. The animals see Squealer walking upright, a sight that stuns them. Even more stunning is that the other pigs are walking upright, as well. Napoleon not only walks upright; he carries a whip. The sheep, which have always been very malleable, are used as a means of propaganda; before the revelation that the pigs are walking, the sheep have been taken and blackmailed so that they will bleat, “Four legs good, two legs better.” In fact, the Seven Commandments have been replaced by a single new commandment: “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” Napoleon changes the name of Animal Farm back to Manor Farm. Napoleon also interacts regularly with men, and at the end of the novel, one cannot distinguish Napoleon from a human.

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