George Orwells Animal Farm and the Individual and Society
Power corrupts, but absolute power corrupts absolutely-is vividly shown in George Orwells novel Animal Farm. The novel aims to show that human nature prevents people from being equal and happy. What the animals aimed at was a utopia where each would respect the needs of others, however this failed. The main purpose and message in Animal Farm is that power cannot be divided equally. Once power is given to an individual or a group, individual thought ceases to exist. Napoleon was never questioned, his word was the law. "'If Comrade Napoleon says it, it must be right.' The animal's stupidity allowed the pigs to take advantage of them.
The irony in the text shows what happens when the memories of the animals are erased. The animals memory of Snowball and the altering of the Seven Commandments helps Napoleon take advantage to control them. The animals thought that they were better off because the pigs kept telling them they were. Orwell wants people to learn to think for themselves and to question what is forced upon them otherwise or be abused by those in power.
A society in which all are equal will never exist because people will have different opinions on the way that the society should be run. "This arrangement would have worked well enough if it had not been for the disputes between Snowball and Napoleon. Snowball is interested in improving facilities so wants to build a windmill. A windmill would involve hard work yet it would provide electricity for light and hot water. Napoleon violently disagrees as he sees food production a necessity as the animals would starve to death if labour went into building this windmill. Eventually their conflict comes to a head and Snowball is run off the farm by Napoleons dogs. Napoleon is now free to complete his power and control over the farm.
The reality of Napoleons hunger for power and cruelty serves as a warning about power. Napoleon is cunning and deep. He does not say much but acts suddenly and with force. He is ruthless and wants power for the sake of power. Napoleon becomes more corrupt and the original Commandments are altered to fit with what he wishes to do. The true side to Napoleon becomes evident after he slaughters so many animals for plotting against him.
Boxer is a likeable character who is contrasted with the corrupt Napoleon. Boxer is strong, honest and hardworking who is also loyal and devoted to the cause of Animalism. He is not very clever and accepts everything the pigs tell him. Boxers cruel disposal by the pigs to the knackers further shows the injustice of this society.
The ones in power have the most privileges- the pigs, did less work than the other animals; "All that year the animals worked like slaves" The pigs also received more food. "Once again all the rations were reduced, except those of the pigs and the dogs." "Animal Farm" shows how propaganda and brainwashing works, by how the pigs could make the other animals believe practically anything. Responsible for the propaganda was Squealer, a pig that "could turn black into white". He managed to convince the other animals that it was for their sake that the pigs ate most of the apples and drank most of the milk, that leadership was heavy responsibility" and therefore the animals should be thankful to Napoleon. When everything else failed he would use the threat of "Jones returning" to silence the animals. The story ends with a hair-raising warning to all humankind: "The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again: but already it was impossible to say which was which". The end result was total abuse of power allowed by being passive individuals in society.
The language of Animal Farm clearly shows the abuse of power by the single individual like Napoleon. Squealer was used by Napoleon weapon to alter the Seven Commandments to gain power over the animals. Squealer used propaganda to change the words of the 1st commandment from Four legs good, two legs bad to Four legs good, two legs better. It sounded the same but the meaning was completely different. The Commandments are also revised in the end in Chapter 10: All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others. Hence, propaganda is used by the pigs to abuse logic and language to control the animals. The word equal can now have varying degrees of being equal, it has lost its absolute meaning.
The conclusion to Animal Farm certainly shows the animals dream of equality destroyed (or the abuse of power by a few individuals over the rest of society). The main reason for the destruction of equality at Animal Farm can be pinpointed to the events that take place after the animals revolt against Mr Jones and fellow humans. Majors dream of equality is destroyed when Napoleon the corrupt opportunist uses violence to become leader. The novel raises questions about human nature asking the question can man really change or is he condemned to end up in a society that will always have the same issues, and so saying change is futile.