The novel Animal Farm
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There is a prominent weakness amongst all utopias that is a result of efforts to establish a society without imperfections. The imperfection seen in the novel Animal Farm, by George Orwell, is portrayed through important characters and leaders that seem to destroy the initial society dreamt of and later built. That corruption and change portrays the author’s thoughts as he uses specific names and animals allegorically with the famous Russian Revolution.
The philosophy of Animalism, which represents communism, is an ideal concept that runs throughout the novel and farm but is later abused until social injustice is formed as a result of a naive working class (animals and Russians) and corrupt ruling class (pigs and Stalin and his army). Leaders do not intend to do any wrong initially, but power is a concept that cannot be mastered. Author George Orwell portrays the theme that corruption is a result of power through the use of irony showcased by the pigs, symbolism of the farmhouse and windmill, and the foreshadowing of failed attempts to create a society of equity in the novel Animal Farm.
In the novel Animal Farm, George Orwell uses verbal and situational irony of Napoleon’s intentions to portray the idea that corruption is a result of power. After Napoleon commands that the windmill indeed be built, he stated that “this work was strictly voluntary, but any animal who absented himself from it would have his rations reduced by half” (Orwell 73). This specific excerpt includes diction that suggests that the pigs were abusing their power and altering the meaning of voluntary work, manipulating the animals into thinking it was for the good of the farm.
However, by cutting the animal’s food supply if they refused to work, readers understand that such a rule is a form of dictatorship by Napoleon which further emphasizes the point that power coming from a place of selfishness results in a society with unjust rule. As the novel came to an end, it was stated that “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” (Orwell 139).
The initial intentions of the animals and pigs was to create a society where utopian ideals were followed and human contact was denounced. When a prominent ruler was announced though, the oblivion of the animals fueled Napoleon’s thirst for power and with their blind devotion came his abuse of power and a reversion back to the ways of their once feared enemy, humans. Irony is a prominent source that further supports the central theme that an innocent society may be exploited by a ruler that is thirsty for power.
Orwell portrays the theme that power persuades moral ideals and leads to corruption through the use of symbolism of the farmhouse and windmill. As the pigs were slowly altering each commandment to suit their own wants, another rule was broken and “the pigs suddenly moved into the farmhouse and took up their residence there… it was absolutely necessary, he said, that the pigs, who were the brains of the farm, should have a quiet place to work in” (Orwell 79). The farmhouse is a clear representation of the divided power slowly built as years passed on Animal Farm.
Inhabiting the farmhouse suggests a source of authority as Jones, the previous ruler once lived there, causing the pigs to take his place in order to sustain their power and create a clear division between the animals and pigs in regards to their social statuses. In addition, Napoleon announced that he would be engaging in trade with neighboring farms and that if the farm were in dire need of money, eggs would be sold and “the hens, said Napoleon, should welcome this sacrifice as their own special contribution towards the building of the windmill” (Orwell 76).
The windmill is a representation of the manipulation the pigs use against the animals for their personal gain. Napoleon suggests that the hens have no say in what happens to their eggs if the farm were to need money because the windmill is the utmost priority and each animal must contribute. The pigs make the animals think that the windmill will benefit them, however, Napoleon only suggests this because in reality, it will increase the power of the pigs by allowing Napoleon to boss the animals around while also gaining a profit from the animal’s work.
Both the farmhouse and windmill represent a social hierarchy that forms in Animal Farm due to Napoleon’s thirst for power. Napoleon’s intentions may one have been pure, but with power came the unbinding of his morals as seen through the foreshadowed events in Animal Farm. “The pigs had set aside the harness-room as a headquarters for themselves. Here, in the evenings, they studied blacksmithing, carpentering, and other necessary arts from books which they had brought out of the farmhouse” (Orwell 48-49). As the animals worked restlessly, the pigs involved themselves with human activities suggesting it was for the benefit of the farm.
While many of the activities they learned did indeed help the farm, the mere act of taking part in human acts foreshadowed the later occurrence of the pigs morphing into humans. The pigs had begun sleeping in the farmhouse and many animals, such as Clover questioned their intentions therefore she asked Muriel to read the original commandments and “‘it says, ‘No animal shall sleep in a bed with sheets”’ (Orwell 79). While readers understand that the commandment had indeed been altered, the animals also raise their suspicions as the pigs begin to go against the farm’s rules.
The pigs altering the commandments for their own benefit and luxury is a slow transition into becoming the corrupt rulers that had previously been the source of power on Animal Farm. The pigs actively involve themselves in human activities and even change the rules to suit their yearnings which later result in a corrupt society because power had twisted their true intentions. In the novel Animal Farm, George Orwell incorporates different aspects of irony in Napoleon’s intentions, symbolism of important objects, and foreshadowing of change in rule to effectively portray the idea that corruption is a result of power.
A life altering event that occured in the beginning of Animal Farm caused new rules to be implemented into the animal’s dreamt of utopian society. However, seemingly insignificant events added up and led to a corrupt ruling class based on power’s ability to persuade. The result was the opposite of what the animals had hoped for and they were not able to escape the corrupt rule on Animal Farm that flowered from Napoleon’s drive for supremacy.