Advanced American Literature
11 January 2000
Power and Corruption in George Orwell's Animal Farm
Through Animal Farm, Orwell intended to "criticize the
communist regime he saw sweeping through Russia and spreading to
Europe and even the United States." (Novel Guide) Orwell
depicted a farm where the animals were as smart as the people.
This book, Animal Farm, divides animals into categories as humans
are ranked today, from the animals of lesser intelligence up to
the smart characters. The smart animals happened to be the pigs,
who proved the human theory, "Power corrupts, and absolute power
corrupts absolutely." This story shows these pigs slowly using
their manipulative brains, and thoughts, to take control of this
Throughout the book these pigs gain more power and begin to
abuse it, corrupting the system and transforming this socialism
dream into a communism starting the whole cycle of unfair rule
where signs of unrest become present once again. As the title
suggests this story takes place on a farm that was once owned by
Mr. Jones, who was an abusive animal caretaker who always got
drunk and never followed through with his responsibilities. This
was seen in the very beginning when, "Mr. Jones, of the Manor
Farm, had locked the hen-houses for the night, but was too drunk
to remember to shut the popholes." (Orwell)This farm lies in the
center of a string of three farms divided by natural barriers,
and a road that leads to the town. The farm held a well, fields,
orchards, stalls, house, and every other thing that a normal farm
would contain. This tale was created to express the ideas of a
perfect government called socialism and the human nature to want
more than equality.
Animal Farm shows how if someone is granted more power with
nothing to tie it down or limit it, it will corrupt. The pigs
slowly manipulated the system so that in secret they changed the
laws to suit their own personal needs. Eventually without
realizing it the pigs controlled everything, and began to use
their high status to gain whatever they wanted without working
for it creating a communism. It all started when pigs where the
smarter class, and respected by all of the animals in the Manor.
Realizing they were respected they naturally convinced the others
that it was acceptable to give themselves just a little more
Little by little the pigs where soon all-powerful. With all
this power the theory of power corrupting began. And the things
they rebelled against were coming back to haunt them. George
Orwell introduces this character called Squealer, who is a pig
who was an expert at manipulating the animals with words that
sound whole-hearted, but are obviously not. The tone of Squealer
is obviously always blithely and serious towards the other
animals, but to the reader a mere speech that was never
impromptu, and quite plainly, simply sarcasm. This double meaning
tone emphasizes the clear abuse of power.
When Animal Farm was first taken over everyone agreed that
next to equality there would be someone to work out how to
arrange what was to happen. The other animals naturally chose the
pigs that were known to be the smartest animals on the farm.
Short after the pigs were granted this leeway, or power, they
begin to jump on every opportunity that arose. The first of which
was when the farm realized that the cows would always be
producing an abundance of milk. The pigs, when no other animal
was looking, seized the milk for their own pleasure excluding the
other animals despite the fact that this farm was to be a
socialism form of government.
Realizing that they were successful in doing this they
ordered that the windfall apples were to be solely used by the
pigs alone. Squealer was the pig with the slickest of tongue, and
had expertise in the field of persuasion. Taking advantage of the
other animals with his granted power he confused the animals into
allowing these items to be theirs, "You do not imagine, I hope,
that we pigs are doing this in a spirit of selfishness and self
privilegeÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ Our sole object in taking these things is to preserve
our healthÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ We pigs are brainworkers. The whole management and
organization of this farm depend on us. Day and night we are
watching over your well fare. It is for your sake that we drink
that milk and eat those apples." (Orwell)
This was the first sitting of power gone wrong. From here it
only got worse. In the beginning the pigs set up commandments
which were to keep animals from ever being as evil as humans
were. As the pigs wanted to do these ignominious things, such as
drink beer and whisky, they changed them in the night. With the
help of squealer the animals were eventually persuaded in to
thinking that the commandments were never actually changed. They
broke other things such as, "No animal shall kill another animal"
when Napoleon, the leader of the pigs, slaughtered many animals
that committed petty sins such as stealing an apple.
The other drastic disobedient act was when the pigs, whom
swore never to act as the humans and remain exempt from human
pleasures, moved in to the house to live in human luxuries.
Squealer once again swayed the public with another exaggerated
speech, "It was about this time that the pigs suddenly moved into
the farmhouse and took up their residence there. Again the
animals seemed to remember that a resolution against this was
past in the earlier days, and again Squealer was able to convince
them that this was not the case. It was absolutely necessary, he
said, that the pigs, who were the brains of the farm, should have
a quiet place to work in. It was also more suited to the dignity
of the leader to live in a house rather than a mere sty."
(Orwell) It didn't get any better, not even at the very end of
the book, where the pigs began walking on two feet, drinking, and
engaging in leisure activities with humans, who in the beginning,
where the race the animals despised.
This tale is truly the perfect example of the corruption of
power. "He who controls the past commands the future. He who
commands the future conquers the past," was stated by the author
of Animal Farm, George Orwell. This quote also shows an obvious
truth that can prevent what was depicted in his book. The pigs on
Animal Farm joined the rest to escape an oppressive ruler (Mr.
Jones), in hopes of creating a better "government" with everyone
equal, but in the end only ending up where they started with a
just as oppressive, if not more oppressive, leader. The quote
above means that if we learn from our past we can have a better
future. This is what one, as well as society, must do to maintain
a system where equals shall remain equals.
The pigs' power corrupted because they had absolute power,
which corrupts absolutely. If they were more interested in the
well being of the farm, or took in ideas from their public
limiting their power, they would have come out on top in the end.
This should go forth as a lesson to all to be aware of what is
going on, and to never let one person ever gain to much power, or
you shall be heading strait towards disaster.
Siegfried. "Orwell's Animal Farm." Yggdrasil's Library. Online.
America Online. 10 January 2000.
"Novel Resource Guide and Literary Analysis." NovelGuide. Online.
America Online. 10 January 2000.
Stone, Frankie. "Animal Farm." 21 December 1997. Online. America
Online. 10 January 2000
"Animal Farm Homepage." Online. America Online. 10 January 2000.