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”Animal Farm” by George Orwell and ”Lord of the flies” by William Golding

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Themes of power and manipulation are evident in George Orwell’s allegory Animal Farm, based on the Russian revolution with animals representing the major players in the debacle, as well as Lord of the Flies, by William Golding, where young children are stranded on a tropical island without any adults or authority figure. Both show how individuals are trapped by their leaders, namely Napoleon and Jack Merridew and their respective followers, who abuse their power and manipulate others for personal gain. They demonstrate how this is an integral part of the foundations of society and are essential for them to flourish, but inevitably bring their downfall.

Animal Farm illustrates the use of power and manipulation through the characters of Napoleon, who gains much of this through the use of fear. Before Old Major’s death, he preached about a land of freedom and equality for all, but the power struggle between Napoleon and Snowball leads to the corruption of the original rules. The two fight amongst each other for power and influence, and, relating to the story of Lord of the Flies, the group is unable to decide what to do with their new found freedom, in this case, the construction of the windmill. He ousts his rival, and when the animals to not agree with him, he uses his power to win their support. He spreads rumours about Snowball, saying: 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! Snowball has done this thing!” He uses these lies to create a strong coalition in his favour and make Snowball seem to be the enemy.

Similarly, Lord of the Flies also demonstrates the same themes. When a young boy tells rumours of a serpentine ‘Beastie’ that inhabits the island, doubt and murmurs spread across the children. After much disorder the leader Ralph tries to convince them to the contrary, explaining there is no such monster. The meeting becomes chaotic as the antagonist, Jack, like Napoleon, rebels against his adversary’s rules and leaves with the group. As in Animal Farm, the original ideals of the group are distorted and this leads to an inevitable conclusion. He recognises his primary fear of being a cowardly leader and uses this against him. While Ralph detests the idea of the beast, he uses this against him, and because the group believes there is a beast, he incorporates the idea so, like Napoleon against Snowball, the group sees him to be substandard. This is also shown when Jack is able to admit his wrongs: “‘I’m sorry. About the fire, I mean. There… I apologize.’ The buzz from the hunters was one of admiration at this handsome behaviour… Jack had done the decent thing, and put himself in the right by his generous apology and Ralph, obscurely in the wrong.”

Napoleon exercises his power by intimidating the other animals with his nine fierce dogs he raised. “They were huge dogs as fierce looking as wolves… uttering growls that sent shivers down the animals’ spines.” He also threatens them with the threat of the abusive farmer Mr. Jones, who once owned the farm: “Do you know what would happen if we pigs failed in our duty? Jones would come back! Yes, Jones would come back!”

Like Napoleon and his intimidation tactics with the animals, Jack’s desire for power is evident from the start and he uses the fear amongst his tribe to gain this, and he ridicules the younger children for being scared of the beast; “You little ‘uns started all this, with the fear talk. You’re a lot of cry-babies and sissies. As for the fear – you’ll have to put up with that like the rest of us.” He uses this leadership role to make people like the littleuns look up to him and fear him more. Piggy foreshadows this when he says, “I know there isn’t no beast…but I know there isn’t no fear either. Unless we get frightened of people.” As he is the object of torment in the group he is not only saying that he is frightened of Jack, but also the innate human malevolence that leads to creation of his cult.

Napoleon’s power and manipulation allows him to control the animals and make them work even harder than they ever did under Mr. Jones, while giving them the false pretence that they weren’t.

Jack’s lust for this allows him to feel authoritative and dignified and, similar to Napoleon, he is able to manipulate the children’s fear to control them. While under his manipulation the boys gruesomely murder Simon, who is trying to warn them about the beast, but unable to recognise who he is in their disordered state, they kill him, which leads to the horrific death of Piggy and the violence towards Ralph. In an attempt to catch him, they set the whole island on fire and, like Snowball’s escape in Animal Farm; Ralph is rescued by a naval officer. This is when the children realise how their society had been manipulated by fear and it had brought out the worst in them.

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