Last edited on April 30, 2022 by Sarah Pereira.
I recently read a classic that is praised left and right, Animal Farm by George Orwell. I found that even though I very much disliked the novella, the songs and poems within it contribute greatly to the overarching moral. This blog post is based on an essay I wrote for my English I class.
George Orwell’s literary magnum opus, Animal Farm, highlights the results of a bad dictatorship and its effects on society. The allegory follows a farm who’s run solely by animals, as the story progresses, a dictatorial leader appears. All the while, songs and poems sung are imbedded with hidden meanings. The differences between the song, “Beasts of England” and the poem, “Comrade Napoleon” illustrate how the animals’ experience on the farm worsens over time.
The purposes of “Beasts of England” and “Comrade Napoleon” vary. “Beasts of England” came from Old Major, whose mother who sang it to him sorrowfully as a child. On the contrary, “Comrade Napoleon” was written by Minimus, a pig on the farm. The song “Beasts of England” is trying to start a rebellion for a better life for the animals whereas “Comrade Napoleon” tries to achieve the painting and praising of Napoleon as a good leader. In “Beasts of England,” the animals detail a life free of man’s rule, a life where they may live peacefully. In “Comrade Napoleon,” the poem details all the stuff Napoleon had ‘done’ for the animals, such things including giving them food and shelter. The poem and song differ because “Beasts of England” was sung as a reminder of what unites the animals while “Comrade Napoleon” highlights only Napoleon himself and his ‘good’ deeds for the animals. In the “Beasts of England” it states, “Soon or late the day is coming, Tyrant Man shall be o’erthrown, And the fruitful fields of England Shall be trod by beasts alone” (Orwell 4). These verses demonstrate the animals’ common goal of overthrowing Tyrant Man. On the contrary, in “Comrade Napoleon,” it states “Thou are the giver of All that thy creatures love, Full belly twice a day, clean straw to roll upon; Every beast great or small Sleeps at peace in his stall, Thou watchest over all, Comrade Napoleon!” (Orwell 28). While the poem at the start mentions happiness and everything the animals ever wanted, it ends up circling back to what Napoleon did and not what the united animals together wanted in the initial rebellion. Though they may seem to have similar meanings, “Beasts of England” and “Comrade Napoleon” have very different purposes.
Similarly, to the purpose, the tone of “Beasts of England” and “Comrade Napoleon” are quite different. The tone of “Beasts of England” is hopeful for what the future entails while the tone of “Comrade Napoleon,” is praising and thankful. The tone is similar to a cause and effect, in “Beasts of England” the animals are excited for the future as a result, in “Comrade Napoleon,” the animals are thankful to Napoleon for helping them, despite the overwhelming amount of evidence that suggests otherwise. The writers’ approach to the topic being handled in their works shows a lot about their attitude. Old Major’s mother wrote the poem desperate for better times where Minimus was almost commissioned by Napoleon and other fellow pigs. This is obvious because while “Beasts of England” portrays emotion, “Comrade Napoleon” slightly lacks it. In “Beasts of England,” the animals sing, “Beasts of England, beasts of Ireland, Beasts of every land and clime, Hearken well and spread my tidings Of the golden future time” (Orwell 4). The animals’ tone in the quote illustrates their excitement for, as they call it, “a golden time.” In “Comrade Napoleon,” it is written, “He [young pigs] should have learned to be Faithful and true to thee, Yes, his first squeak should be” (Orwell 28). This quote further shows that the animals follow Napoleon and will continue doing so by saying that all the new, young animals should be faithful to him.
Word choices play a critical role in trying to achieve something in the song, “Beasts of England” and poem“Comrade Napoleon.” The word choices in “Beasts of England” detail a vivid, hopeful life for the animals in the future. In “Comrade Napoleon,” more flowery writing is used to celebrate Napoleon and to shape him into a hero-like figure. Certain lines in “Comrade Napoleon” are used to persuade the more reluctant animals to follow Napoleon. The poem states, “Oh, how my soul is on Fire when I gaze at thy Calm and commanding eye, Like the sun in the sky, Comrade Napoleon!” (Orwell 28). The diction in those lines force animals to picture something like the sun, which is crucial for survival and yet, Napoleon doesn’t provide necessary needs for the animals. However, using a metaphor to compare Napoleon to the sun makes the animals picture something good and important. In “Comrade Napoleon” more elaborate writing is also incorporated so the dumber or less mentally capable animals on the farm believe what is said about Napoleon. Instead, in “Beasts of England” it states, “Riches more than mind can picture, Wheat and barley, oats and hay, Clover, beans, and mangel−wurzels Shall be ours upon that day” (Orwell 4). Deciding to listen and be upfront with what the animals want helps “Beasts of England” be something every animal can relate to because it doesn’t include saturated, fancy writing but is rather, frank, which helps unite the population of Animal Farm. Using upfront words also helps show the living conditions of the animals because they are singing about what they most desire. On the other hand, in “Comrade Napoleon” the animals no longer need to use upfront language because they’ve been brainwashed to think their aspirations reflected in “Beasts of England” was solved. The word choice in both pieces display the worsened living conditions for the animals.
In short, the song “Beasts of England” and poem “Comrade Napoleon” differ because the two poems display, through text, how different the living conditions were and how they got poorer. While singing “Beasts of England,” all the animals were happy as opposed to when “Comrade Napoleon” was introduced, the animals were already malnourished and in terrible living conditions. In the end, “Comrade Napoleon” no longer reminded the animals of a better future but a failed future.