LetterTruth and Hypocrisy In Animal Farm and The Scarlet LetterLies are often distorted into truth by those in power, who eventually become hypocrites as they continue to delude for selfish gain. In the process of this distortion, they will do everything possible to conceal and maintain their hunger for dominance and deference. This theme of truth ( or lack thereof ) and ultimate hypocrisy is skillfully shown through Napoleon in George Orwells Animal Farm, and Reverend Dimmesdale in Nathaniel Hawthornes The Scarlet Letter. One of the most notable characteristics shared by Napoleon and Reverend Dimmesdale is their ability to skillfully twist lies into the truth. In Animal Farm, Napoleon is relentless in his deception of the other animals. According to Graham Greene ( Bloom, 1996, 21), he is a consummate powermonger who can skillfully undermine any idea that isnt his own. The first signs of his dishonesty are shown when he hoards the milk and apples, with a message to the others that It is for your sake that we drink that milk and eat those apples. ( Orwell, 52 ) From there, the lies only increase in frequency and size. Its easy to compare this to the deceptive nature of Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale of The Scarlet Letter. The young minister veils his sin from his Puritanical community by cultivating an image that is far from the real truth.
( Johnson, 14) From the revelation of Hesters scarlet letter to that of his own, Dimmesdaleconceals his shame by portraying himself as a miracle of holiness. ( Hawthorne, 139) Thus, both Napoleon and the minister share the negative attribute of fraudulence throughout their respective novels.
Another notable comparison between the two novels is that both Napoleon and Dimmesdale lie for ambition. This is distinctly observable in Animal Farm, where the pigs take the immediate initiative to establish themselves as the leaders. Napoleon is instantly placed as a head, being the only Berkshire boar on the farm that has a reputation for getting his own way. ( Orwell, 35 ) From the moment the animals beat Jones out of the farm, its obvious that Napoleon is shrewdly planning to fill the farmers position. He envisions plans that will benefit only himself, yet make him appear to be working for everyones advantage. ( Allen, 37 ) Thus, he will rise in the animals eyes as a caring and considerate leader. This is exemplified by his expulsion of his rival Snowball, and the subsequent slander of the latters reputation. Napoleon then elevates his own reputation as a head by lying about Snowballs intentions. As the novelprogresses, he becomes increasingly sophisticated in justifying his greed ( Allen, 38 )for power. Reverend Dimmesdale shares this trait by deceiving his townspeople for their respect and admiration. He desires to be a great and revered minister ( Johnson, 15 ), and will sacrifice anything to conceal his sin. The reverend seems to be concerned solely with public opinion and its effect towards his career. ( Johnson, 32 ) Thus, he lies to his congregation for seven years, and suffers an incalculable amount of pain and guilt for it. However, he is rewarded with the desired success, for the townspeople begin to view him as a holy figure: so apotheosized by worshipping admirer, did his footsteps, in the procession, really tread upon the dust of earth? ( Hawthorne, 233 ) A difference is felt between the novels in that while both Napoleon and Dimmesdale lie for ambition, Napoleon has no compunctions for doing so, in contrary to the minister, whos greatly haunted by his conscience. Napoleons greed never wavers throughout the novel, and only seems to increase to grosser and grosser degrees. ( Allen, 38 ) Not once does he appear to show the slightest bit of guilt or hesitation in making the animals toil for his benefit. When faced with doubt or disobedience from any of the animals, he has no qualms about making them suffer( Johnson, 56), or even killing them. Such was the incident with the hens, when their refusal to give up their eggs led to their food rations being cut off. The minister in The Scarlet Letter does seem to feel very deep remorse for his dishonesty to his townspeople about his affair with Hester Prynne. Dimmesdale knows that he has committed one of the most contemptible sins in Puritan society. Hes also fully aware of the fact that his confession will throw him away from the grace of God. ( Bloom, 1986, 79 ) So Dimmesdale keeps the truth of his sin to himself. The guilt he suffers from materializes itself as slow sickness, insomnia, mental nervousness, and the appearance of a scarlet letter on the flesh of his chest. ( Bloom, 1986, 92 )An unavoidably noticeable similarity appears between the two characters in their blatant hypocrisy. From the moment that the pigs begin to take control of the farm, it becomes distressingly obvious that Napoleon is becoming exactly what he preaches against the most- human. His hypocrisy is firmly established after his violent expulsion of Snowball from the farm. With the help of his guard dogs, which are an undeniably human accessory, Napoleon begins to show all the characteristics of a tyrannical ruler, which is what the Rebellion was against.
( Allen, 38 ) Not only does he begin to assume more and more privileges for himself, but he actually goes as far as to change the aims of the original vision of Animal Farm. ( Ball, 45 ) These changes are made, for example, to the Seven Commandments, in an attempt to hide his hypocrisy from the rest of the animals. The end of Animal Farm presents us with the eerie image of the inability of the animals to distinguish Napoleon from Mr. Pilkington. This completes Napoleons rapid declivity to absolute hypocrisy, and totally annuls the purpose of the Rebellion. Likewise, The Scarlet Letter presents us with the equally hypocritical figure of Reverend Dimmesdale. His duplicity is felt from the instant he charges Hester Prynne with the crime of adultery on the scaffold. It becomes apparent that he shares Hesters sin as the novel progresses.
However, he cleverly conceals his ignominy by sermonizing about it, for Dimmesdale becomes renown for his brilliant homilies against adultery and dishonesty. ( Morey, 96 ) His sermons are so inspiring and convincing that the townspeople begin to view him as a saint. The irony of this is amazing, since Dimmesdale, by hiding his crime and bathing in undeserved praise, is the worst sinner in the book. ( Bloom, 1986, 106 ) Thus, the young minister is a hypocrite who uses piety to conceal his shame. However, a contrast can be observed in the direction of Napoleons hypocrisy compared to that of Dimmesdale. One of the main themes of Orwells novel is Napoleons transformation from pig to human. This means that in the opening, he genuinely believed and advocated the spirit of the Rebellion. ( Ball, 55 ) With such examples as the secret revolutionary meetings in the barn, and the spirit of equality in the original Seven Commandments, ( Bloom, 1996, 48 ) his starting sincerity is hard to refute. However, Napoleon makes a descent towards hypocrisy as the novel progresses, noted by such acts as his move into the farmhouse, the Purge of Snowballs supposed followers, and finally, the adaptation of human attire. His initial sincerity makes hisdecline into dishonesty all the more loathsome to watch.
Napoleons deterioration into hypocrisy is as discouraging as Dimmesdales ascent towards honesty is inspirational. The minister is introduced as the paradigm of duplicity, but manages, through his suffering and contrition, to finally reveal the truth of his sin at the end. ( Johnson, 141 ) Although his attempts at honesty were weakened by his cowardice, Dimmesdale escapes his mendacious introduction in the conclusion, where he confesses his crime on the scaffold to his congregation. His inner struggle for candor makes his ultimate success at the end of the novel more satisfying for the reader to experience.
Thus, the characters of Napoleon and Reverend Dimmesdale have done well to establish the point of truth and hypocrisy in Animal Farm and The Scarlet Letter. The theme seems to be eternal, which is understandable, since honesty (or lack thereof in this case) and hypocrisy areirrepressible parts of human nature. Orwell and Hawthorne have shown how ambitious deceptioncan affect the lives and minds of people in devastating ways. Napoleon, the ruthless Berkshire boar, and Arthur Dimmesdale, the cowardly minister, will always be remembered for their cunning dishonesty and blatant hypocrisy in literature.
Bibliography ( Works Cited List )- Cliffs Notes on Orwells Animal Farm, Allen, David, Cliffs Notes, Inc., 1981, USA- George Orwells Animal Farm, Ball, David, Barrons Educational Series, Inc., 1984, NY- George Orwells Animal Farm, Bloom, Harold, Chelsea House Publishers, 1996, PA- Modern Critical Interpretations: Nathaniel Hawthornes The Scarlet Letter, Bloom, Harold,Chelsea House Publishers, 1986- The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Washington Square Press Publications, 1989, NY- Understanding The Scarlet Letter: A Student Casebook to issues, sources, and historical documents, Johnson, Claudia Durst, Greenwood Publishing Group Inc., 1995, CT- Readings on The Scarlet Letter, Morey, Eileen, Greenhaven Press Inc., 1998, CA- Animal Farm, George Orwell, Penguin Putnam Inc., 1996Words/ Pages : 1,547 / 24