Comparative essay: Leadership in Lord of the Flies and Animal Farm
Essay question: You are required to write a comparative essay. You should compare one aspect of the texts such as theme, conflict, character or relationship. The texts are ‘Lord of the Flies’ and ‘Animal Farm’.
The two books, Lord of the Flies and Animal Farm circle around the themes of power, leadership, law, disorder, good and evil. On a personal level, these themes come up in the way people relate to each other: How they interact, who becomes a follower, a manipulator, who takes responsibility, who becomes a victim and who a perpetrator. In the two books both Jack and Napoleon stick out as having so called leadership qualities.
Leadership, as shown in Golding’s Lord of the flies, and Orwell’s Animal Farm, deals with theme of human and animal nature. One of the central concerns in both novels are the conflicts that exist between living by rules, acting peacefully, following moral commands and valuing the good of the group against the instinct for power. In both books the characters that assume leadership do so by creating a common enemy, in Lord of the Flies it is the beast and in Animal Farm it is the “two legged” human being. “FOUR LEGS GOOD, TWO LEGS BAD…” (pg. 22) By establishing a prejudice the leaders give their followers a belief that provides them with a foothold. The authority of the leaders is therefore strengthened.
In Lord of the Flies, Jack is a boy who stands out in his appearance and behavior. He is thin and bony, a red head with light blue eyes. Jack is an independent thinker; he does not believe that there is a dangerous beast on the island. From the beginning of the novel, he does not like to follow rules of any kind but is still somewhat influenced by the society he had been a part of. “I agree with Ralph. We’ve got to have rules and obey them. After all we’re not savages. We’re English and the English are best at everything. So we’ve got to do the right things. “(pg. 42) Although Jack seems to adapt to the rules and does not want to end up as a savage, during the course of events he gradually isolates himself from the group. Signaling that he is tough enough to survive on his own, he presents himself to the others as a strong personality. This makes Jack attractive to the other boys, who want to join the self confident, courageous and enthusiastic boy. Jack has taken Ralph’s role as a leader and seems to have made it more exiting and enjoyable for the boys, by going hunting and wearing face paint. “Some of you will stay here to improve the cave and defend the gate. I shall take a few hunters with me and bring back meat. “(pg. 177) Jack gives clear instructions and tries to build up cooperation within the tribe.
Napoleon, in Animal Farm, is a large, rather fierce looking Berkshire boar. He rises to power in two stages: As a pig, he belongs to a privileged class and uses this position to strengthen his influence on the animals. He has only one rival: Snowball, who acts as the chief of Animal Farm. Gradually, Napoleon starts resisting to Snowballs plans for various projects and instigates the animals against Snowball. “Comrades, do you know who is responsible for this? Do you know the enemy who has come in the night and overthrown our windmill? SNOWBALL! He suddenly roared in a voice of thunder, Snowball has done this thing! In sheer malignity, thinking to set back our plans and avenge himself for his ignominious expulsion.” (pg. 47) Eventually he convinces the dogs to dispose of Snowball from Animal Farm. By using the animals for his own benefit, by controlling them through terror such as the executions, threats of farmer Jones’ return, lies and brainwashing Napoleon becomes a powerful but frightening leader.
When comparing the development of the leadership of Jack and Napoleon, at first glance it seems that there are more similarities than differences. Both, Jack and Napoleon have to fight for their place as a leader in the group. They do so by manipulating the weaker members and setting themselves apart from the others. “Napoleon stays behind to drink milk while the other go out to the fields to begin the hay harvest.” (pg. 23) Napoleon does not obey the seven commandments, he follows his own rules. In the same way, Jack goes hunting on his own and does not believe in keeping the fire or getting rescued. “There was the brilliant world of hunting, tactics, fierce exhilaration, skill: and there was the world of longing and baffled commonsense.” (pg. 71) In a similar manner Jack and Napoleon use instigation and threat to build up their power.
There is a basic difference: Even though Jack’s behavior is not completely honest and fair he is liked by his tribe whereas Napoleon is recognized as a dictator, who uses his leadership to exploit the animals. In the end even the farm animals long for the humans. “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.” (pg. 95) In Lord of the Flies, the savage tribe is willing to return to civilization because they see the positive but in Animal Farm confusion spreads in what is truly good and what is bad. Both, Jack and Napoleon gain absolute power, by abusing their followers, who do not notice that they are being manipulated into seeing them in a much better light. “Forward in the name of the rebellion! Long live Animal Farm! Long live comrade Napoleon! Napoleon is always right!” (pg. 83) The animals are tricked into believing that Napoleon is perfect. Jack’s way of manipulation is different. He uses everything he does to show off and to boost his pride. “Jack held up the head and jammed the soft throat down on the pointed end of the stick which pierced through into the mouth. He stood back and the head hung there, a little blood dribbling down the stick.” (pg. 150) Jack behaves like a hero and that’s how he gets the other boy’s attention and admiration.
Overall the two figures, Jack and Napoleon, use their power in many different ways but their goal is the same: to rule over everyone. Thus turning their leadership into an oppression, which eventually leads to a chaotic situation. Both leadership styles are examples of dictatorship, which fail to include the voices of the people.