Animal Farm: How Power Can Corrupt

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The novel ‘Animal Farm’ by George Orwell illustrates the ease with which leaders can become corrupt and how it affects the various characters in the story. Power, although easily corrupted by tyrants, possesses both moral positive and negative aspects. Old Major, in his lifetime, wielded power for the benefit of his fellow comrades.

Following the Major’s death, Napoleon and Squealer misuse their power, causing harm to others. With unchecked power, the leaders become corrupt, leading to suffering for their comrades and facing the resulting consequences. The animals in Manor Farm highly regarded and respected the Major due to his influential position.

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The Major shared his wisdom and knowledge with the animals, envisioning a future where they would be free from labor and hardship. He used his power to benefit all animals, regardless of their intelligence, emphasizing equality and warning against any animal who would betray this commandment by becoming like the ‘humans’. However, corruption soon took hold as Napoleon saw an opportunity to seize power. Napoleon is portrayed as the epitome of corruption in the book, using his power for personal gain and manipulating the other animals through threats and coercion to do his bidding.

He employs propaganda to confuse and manipulate certain animals into believing that his actions are in the best interest of the animals and their habitat. Napoleon utilizes his personal dogs to intimidate any animals that challenge his authority or voice their dissent. He also resorts to coercion to deceive the less intelligent animals who are easily misled. With unlimited power, Napoleon continuously abuses it, going so far as to modify the commandments that govern all animals’ lives.

After the revolution, it became evident that Napoleon’s desire for power had taken hold in his mind. The animals on the farm were persuaded to trust Napoleon and, as a result, their equality was ultimately undermined. Squealer played a significant role in this outcome, using inducements to motivate the animals to continue working with the promise of future benefits for everyone.

The pigs’ corruption was effectively concealed through propaganda, manipulating the animals’ beliefs and distorting the truth about Napoleon’s role in the battles. Squealer, taking advantage of the animals’ short memory or lack of intelligence, skillfully manipulates past events and commandments to suit Napoleon’s agenda. As Napoleon grants Squealer the power to alter the animals’ perception, Squealer gradually succumbs to corruption in his quest for more power. Corruption and Power are central themes throughout the novel.

Different characters had their own unique methods of utilizing power. Old Major, the previous leader of Manor Farm, utilized his power for the benefit of the entire farm instead of solely for himself. In contrast, Napoleon used force to acquire what he desired. Squealer played the role of Napoleon’s informant, without whom Napoleon could not effectively convince everyone on his own. Thus, Squealer resorted to manipulation to alter the animals’ perspectives. This suggests that holding power does not necessarily lead to complete corruption.

However, only individuals who are drawn to the idea of immense unrestricted power actively seek it for themselves.

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Animal Farm: How Power Can Corrupt. (2017, May 27). Retrieved from

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