George Orwell's Book Animal Farm Used to Define Power and Corruption

George Orwell's Book Animal Farm used to Define Power and Corruption

Power, a simple word that can either destroy a person or save them. Society today thrives on power, whether it is good or bad. George Orwell’s Animal Farm is used to define power and the corruption that comes from absolute power. Orwell used animals to portray humans to prove how power leads to corruption. The quote, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” by Lord Acton is demonstrated in Animal Farm perfectly, and concisely as the characters, plot, and themes show how power can absolutely corrupt.

Orwell uses animals to represent humans. Through this he demonstrates the corruption of humans. The animals mimic humans, including the flaws, which show the extremity of human corruption. As each animal has an opportunity to seie power each uses it for good and bad. Snowball was a character, that was an equal to Napoleon, with the same amount of power and such, but he was also the only leader that did not become corrupt with power. Snowball was the one everyone could trust, and the one that would always be there with advice. He spoke the truth and only the truth, and made promises that he could keep, unlike the other leaders. As Napoleon was one of the co-leaders at this time, Snowball did not possess absolute power.

When Napoleon gained power, he brought with him corruption into the story. At the first look Napoleon seemed like he didn’t want the responsibility and power of being a leader. It is shown later that he planned to have more power later, where it would be more important. He had used fear as a way to make himself more powerful, by using the dogs to attack at any moment. This proved that Napoleon had become so greedy and obsessed with power he would do anything to maintain it at all costs.

Almost every single character in the story is corrupt, but some develop later while other earlier. Mr. Jones would be one of the characters that are corrupt from the beginning. He has all the power over the entire farm in the beginning before the rebellion. Before he dies Old Major says, “Let’s face it, our lives are miserable, laborious and short.” (pg.3) It clearly proves that Mr. Jones did not take proper care of his animals, but he would rather they live short, horrible lives so he can sell them for as much money as soon as possible. Since he did have extra money and all the power over the farm he could’ve made the animals better and bearable, but instead he spends it on himself, and his liquor. “Mr. Jones of the Manor Farm had locked the hen-houses for the night but was to drunk to remember to.” (pg.1) We see that from the first line of the book Mr. Jones is selfish, corrupt, and power hungry.

After the animals overtake the farm and Mr. Jones’ power, Orwell illustrates how he is powerless and lost without the farm. The corruption of his mind was so high up in power, without it he does not know what to do anymore. Power was not only corrupting Mr. Jones but the other farmers too. They did have absolute power of their own farm, but being corrupted they kept on wanting more and more. When they found out about Animal Farm and how it was taken from Mr. Jones, they all longed to have Animal Farm under their power. Orwell states, “At heart, each of them (farmers) were secretly wondering whether they could not somehow turn Jones’s misfortune to his own advantage.” (pg.24) This shows how they feel no remorse or pity for their friend, but how they feel greed and power.

Using different situations and actions Orwell gradually builds up to the corruption of the pigs. It starts off by changing the smaller things such as the food division between the animal, the changes then start to get bigger, and more drastic, ending up with pigs acting like humans. As the pigs were the only literate animals on the farm, they had the complete trust of all the other animals. They were also in charge of the documents, which gave them even more power over the animals, and it also allowed them (the pigs) manipulate the other animals even more. The Commandments of Animal Farm slowly started to deteriorate and collapse throughout the book. “All animals are equal.” That would be the biggest commandment that fell and collapsed the most in the book. It would be considered the most important as Animalism was based off of this whole idea, of all animals being equal. The pigs, specifically Napoleon started to treat everyone differently and create classes. Napoleon was also the one who created all the new rules, though at the beginning all the animals discussed and created them together democratically. This showed how Napoleon was on a higher pedestal than everyone else, going against the idea of Animalism.

Napoleon was not only a power hungry leader; he also was an unfair leader, which thought of only himself. He never cared about the good of the other animals or what they wanted. As long as they were doing all the work Napoleon was happy. The other animals’ voices were never heard while under the reign of Napoleon. However when they were under the reign of Old Major and Snowball they always made sure their voices were heard. The other pigs also helped Napoleon, for the power and benefits, if the other animals they did not care as they were getting more, than others and that’s what mattered.

Corruption is also evident later on, when the original seven commandments of the farm started to slowly change. Napoleon was already the main leader and had absolute power over the farm by this time, which caused the animals not to rebel, if they wanted to survive. Napoleon felt that he could do whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted, since no one would dare and question him. Being calm and collected and lazy caused him to become paranoid about everything, hurting anyone that would question him. Most of their (animals) mistakes would be very simple such as urinating in a drinking pool (pg. 56 & 57) and the consequences would be death.

As we get closer and closer to the end of the book, we see the degree to which Napoleon became power hungry and corrupt. The equality of all the animals was demolished. The commandment, “All animals are equal” was changed to “ All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.” The original commandment was the base of Animalism and the purpose of it. By changing the simple statement it is shown how the absolute power corrupted Napoleon into thinking he was the best and that no one and nothing could stop him.

By the end of the book it is shown how the life on the farm has changer through the plot, theme and characters. It started off with a human having absolute power and treating the animals bad and ended off with a pig having absolute power and treating all the animals unequally. By always being sure of himself and thinking that he was always right Napoleon displayed that absolute power corrupted absolutely.