Discuss the Role of Benjamin and the Sheep in Animal Farm

Discuss the Role of Benjamin and the Sheep in Animal Farm.
Discuss the role of Benjamin and the Sheep. In the novel ‘Animal Farm’ written by George Orwell both Benjamin the donkey and the sheep are introduced on page two, “Benjamin was the oldest animal on the farm, and the worst tempered” and “the sheep and cows lay down behind the pigs. ” This is the first introduction of the animals on the farm and it immediately gives the reader an indication about how important they will be in the novel as the sheep have not even been described all the reader knows is where they lay and gives the reader an idea on their status compared to the other animals.
Benjamin’s next appearance is on page eighteen when he expresses his attitude towards the rebellion, “about the rebellion and its results he would express no opinion”. This tells the audience that Benjamin is a bad “tempered” character but not this it hints to the reader that he has a pessimistic attitude towards life. Benjamin is very important in terms of his opinions towards the rebellion as he helps to foreshadow the rebellion reverting backwards as “donkeys live a long time. ” This tells the reader that he has seen it all happen before and that nothing every stays right for long.
Despite Benjamin being a miserable character, he still fought in the batter of the cowshed, “Snowball now launched his second line of attack. Muriel, Benjamin and all the sheep”. This shows how Benjamin just does what he is told, and that he isn’t an argumentative character this could be because of his cynic attitude as he knows everything is going to go wrong anyway because “donkeys live a long time”. This helps the audience to question whether or not the rebellion will be successful or not as Benjamin is always used to help lower the optimism of the animals throughout the book.

Benjamin and the sheep show a good contrast as they are both very similar in the ways that they are controlled and ordered. However the sheep do not have the knowledge which Benjamin knows as they have not seen things come and go. The sheep are in the same line of attack as Benjamin and I think this shows that the animals in this line of attack are very similar. This infers to the reader that if the rebellion was to revert backwards they would all be equally powerless and hopeless.
Benjamin’s cynic attitude is maintained throughout the novel and is again shown to be a miserable character, “only old Benjamin refused to grow enthusiastic about the windmill, though as usual, he would utter nothing beyond a cryptic remark that donkeys live a long time”. This was said on page forty three and it reminds the reader about the possibility of the windmill going wrong and this is playing a big role in the prefiguring of the windmill failing to be built successfully as he has seen many things go wrong in his lifetime.
Even thought Benjamin is the “worst tempered” animal on the farm he still shows a lot of affection towards Boxer, “without openly admitting it, he was devoted to Boxer. ” This was said in his character description on page two and it helps to show Benjamin as a human and it makes the audience think about him in society and the impact that he has. By looking at him like this we are able to start to understand the lack of power these animals have compared to the other human beings in society.
This plays a huge role in our understanding of status and higherarky around the farm as we are able to interpret the farm animals as human beings. Benjamin is character that does not like to get involve because he knows something is always going to go wrong, “Clover asked Benjamin to read her the sixth commandment, and when Benjamin, as usual, said that he refused to meddle in such matters. ” This was said on page fifty-six and it shows Benjamin’s pessimistic attitude as he does not want to take any interest into what is going on around him as he knows what is eventually going to happen through his life experiences.
Benjamin can sometimes come across as a smug character due to his knowledge and this helps to reinforce to the reader that things are not going to work out on the farm, “slowly, and with an air almost of amusement, Benjamin nodded his long muzzle”. The word “amusement” portrays Benjamin to be smug at this moment in the book because he knew that the windmill was going to go wrong. This makes the audience think that every cynical statement that Benjamin says it likely to be true making his function very important as it helps the reader to understand what is going to happen in the following chapters.
Benjamin is also seen again on page sixty-eight and we know again that something is going to go wrong again, “except old Benjamin, who nodded his muzzle with a knowing air, and seemed to understand, but would say nothing. ” The reader is now starting to see a trend in Benjamin’s senses, “with an air almost of amusement” and “with a knowing air” (page 68) these very similar sentences tell the reader that Benjamin could see all of this happening and that he knew everything was going to go wrong. The role of Benjamin is to help prefigure what is going o happen, so when he urges boxer to slow down on page sixty-nine, “Benjamin urged Boxer to work less hard” the reader knows straight away that Boxer is going to get seriously hurt. This is very shocking for the reader because his death is prefigured on page five, “Boxer, the very day that those great muscles of yours lose their power, Jones will sell you to the knacker. ” This shows how close Benjamin and Boxer are but also prefigures the death of Boxer which is done using the knowledge which boxer has retained from his long life.
Benjamin has a family like relationship with Boxer, “Benjamin, who lay down at Boxer’s side, and, without speaking, kept the flies off him with his long tail. ” On page seventy-five audience see Benjamin showing his compassion towards Boxer and it helps use see Benjamin as a real person and this plays a big role in how we feel when we read on as when Boxer does get taken away to the knackers we see Benjamin and Boxer as people and it makes it more distressing and more heart breaking for the reader. After Boxer’s death Benjamin becomes more miserable and quiet and his attitude gets worse, “more morose and taciturn than ever. (page 80) Suddenly Benjamin has become even more cynical possibly because life has got worse than he expected. Benjamin’s role in the novel is to now express the lack of hope there is on the farm especially as Boxer was symbolic of hope and now all hope has gone Benjamin is there to symbolise that to the audience so they are able to understand how bad things are getting on the farm. Benjamin plays a big role on page eighty-four when he reads out the last broken commandment for Clover, “for once Benjamin consented to break his rule and he read out to her what was written on the wall. This is very striking because Benjamin knew that “some animals are more equal than others” all along and it is very upsetting for the reader as all hope is lost for the animals and all the animals know that now through the breaking and changing of the commandments. The sheep are used to heckle other farm animals so that it is impossible for any opinions to be raised. The sheep are often heard when Squealer is talking to the other farm animals about changes which have taken place on the farm, “of late the sheep had taken to bleating ‘four legs good, two legs bad’ both in and out of season”.
The sheep are very easily manipulated because of their lack of intelligence and Napoleon was keep to take advantage of this to use it in his favour so Snowball would get interrupted during his speeches, “especially liable to break into ‘four legs good, two legs bad’ at the crucial moments in Snowball’s speeches. ” This was due to Napoleon training them like he did with the dogs. The role of the sheep is to interrupt Snowball so that Napoleon is able to get his own way. The sheep have little knowledge and power on the farm which is why they are the animals to be manipulated to work in Napoleons favour.
On Pages twenty-nine, thirty-two, thirty-four and forty the sheep either interrupt Snowball whilst he is talking, “occasionally interrupted by bleating from the sheep” or they are heard to prevent any discussion developing so that Napoleon is able to get his way, “tremendous bleating of ’four legs good, two legs bad’ which went on for nearly a quarter of an hour which out an end to any chance of discussion”. The sheep are used to stop the farm animals from asking any questions which could possibly cause the rebellion to progress this allows Napoleon to take charge and to take what the animals work for without questions.
The sheep are also potentially used to scare the other farm animals, because the sheep are very easily manipulated it is quite possible that Napoleon had forced them to confess to a crime which that had committed, “then a sheep confessed to having urinated in the drinking pool – urged to do this, so she said” (page 53). More sheep continued to confess to various crimes and their role is to sacrifice themselves so that the other farm animals would be too scared to stir up a rebellion against Napoleon.
The sheep are seen again on page fifty-six carrying out the same role of heckling so that the other animals do not get a chance to protest, “some of the animals might possibly have protested, but at this moment the sheep set up with their usual bleating of ‘four legs good, two legs bad’”. This ensured that Napoleons decision of the abolishment of ‘Beats of England’ did not get argued against as the moment which they could have possibly said anything had already passed.
This role which the sheep undertake is very important in terms of the rebellion reverting backwards as if they didn’t interrupt the positive ideas the Snowball came up with they could be living better lives. Not only this but if they didn’t bleat out ‘four legs good, two legs bad’ after Napoleon makes a change the animals may have been able to rebel to Napoleon’s ideas resulting in a better life for the farm animals. The sheep are very easily manipulated and when they get taken away by squealer on page eighty-three we know something bad is going to happen, “squealer ordered the sheep to follow him”.
We know something bad is going to happen as Napoleon did the same thing with the young puppies from Jessie and Bluebell. The sheep had been taken to convince the other farm animals that walking on two legs was good, “four legs good, two legs better”. This shows how the pigs are better than the farm animals as they are now walking on their “hind legs”. The sheep repeat this so much that the animals do not get a chance to protest, “it went on for five minutes without stopping. And by the time the sheep had quieted down, the chance to utter any protest had passed. This is the sheep’s’ main role so that the pigs are able to do what they want without the other animals protesting allowing the rebellion to revert further and further backwards. Overall, the main role of Benjamin is to prefigure the failure of the rebellion through his pessimistic attitude and through his life experiences as donkeys live a long time. And the sheep are used to help manipulated the animals into thinking that what the pigs are doing is a good thing but also to prevent them from protesting so that the pigs are able to maintain their power and carry on doing what they want like a dictator would.

Discuss the Role of Benjamin and the Sheep in Animal Farm

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New York University

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