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Absolute Power Corrupts in Animal Farm Essay


In his self-proclaimed fairy story, Animal Farm, George Orwell has clearly shown that absolute power corrupts absolutely. In order to get this theme across, he has used fable to replace human beings with animals and show the process of power corrupting, allegory to draw parallel between Animal Farm and the Russian Revolution and satire to expose the corruption of the leaders.

In order to demonstrate that absolute power corrupts absolutely without being defensive to anyone, Orwell has created Animal Farm as a fable, where all animals think, talk and fight like human beings. He has effectively used Napoleon, the leader of Animal Farm as an example, to show the process of power corrupting. Although Napoleon seems to be a good leader at first, he becomes very corrupted when he has gained absolute power, that is, when he has exiled Snowball from Animal Farm. He starts to sleep in bed, drink alcohol, wear clothes, engage in trade, smoke and use Moses the raven to opiate the animals. In the end, he has adopted all the manners of Mr. Jones and become what he has hated before. He is totally corrupted. By describing these changes using fable, Orwell has clearly shown the corrupting nature of power.

Some people have questioned the believability of Orwells warning because the outcome of the story is fixed since the nature of animals cannot change. However, George Orwell has evidently shown that it is true by drawing parallels from Animal Farm to the Russian Revolution through his use of allegory. It becomes crystal clear that Animal Farm symbolizes the Russian Revolution when Old Major gave the speech in the cowshed. Whereas Old Major has said, Only get rid of Man, and the produce of our labour would be our own (1945: 5), Karl Marx had encouraged workers to educate themselves and struggle so that they could control the means of production for their own benefit. Another example is while Napoleon exiles Snowball in Animal farm, Joseph Stalin, leader of Russia, exiled and later murdered Leon Trotsky, his opposer. Whereas Napoleon later blames the fall of the windmill on Snowball, Stalin had blamed every failure in Russia on Trotsky. Some people have suggested that this allegory is so close to the Russian that it has excluded the other dictatorships. However, in the last chapter, the neighbouring farmers, representing the other nations, visited Animal Farm. By putting the farmers and Napoleon together at a table, Orwell has suggested that absolute power corrupts absolutely and it can happen anywhere. In Animal Farm, by linking all the characters and events in the novel to the Russian Revolution, Orwell has further demonstrated to the reader that absolute power corrupts absolutely and it has truly happened in Russia.

Besides fable and allegory, George Orwell also used satire in Animal Farm effectively to expose the corruption of the pigs. He used irony numerous times as his main form of attack. For example, when Boxer was taken away, although the readers see the same thing as the animals, they get a different meaning. While the animals think Boxer is taken to hospital, the reader can see it clear enough that he is sold by Napoleon to the knacker. Another example of irony is the comparison All the year the animals worked like slaves (1945: 40). On one hand it simply means that they have worked very hard, but on the other hand it means the animals are actually becoming slaves of the pigs. Through this ironical comparison, the readers can very easily see the corruption and inequality. In addition to irony, Orwell also used sarcasm to depict the ugly look of the pigs. While Squealer says, Comrades! You do not imagine, I hope, that we pigs are doing this in a spirit of selfishness and privilege? (1945: 23), in fact they are eating the apples in a spirit of selfishness and privilege. By using this sarcasm, Orwell has further shown that absolute power corrupts absolutely. Since the pigs have absolute power, they are able to tell any lies even though it is completely opposite to the fact. Through his uses of satirical techniques, Orwell has shown that how corrupted absolute power can become.

In his novel Animal Farm, George Orwell had created a fable which evidently shows the process of power corrupting. By using allegory to link the story to the Russian Revolution and satire to further emphasize the corruption of power, he has very successfully shown that absolute power corrupts absolutely.

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