Power and Corruption in George Orwell's Animal Farm

David Castelletti

Mrs. Reduzzi

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

Animal Farm.

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

privilege… Our sole object in taking these things is to preserve

our health… 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.

Works Cited

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.

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