How is power and corruption shown in Animal Farm?

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rrteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The corrupting effect of power is one of the central themes of Animal Farm. At the beginning of the book, Old Major describes the oppression that the animals experience, and predicts that the day will come when they overthrow their human masters and build an equitable society. When the animals of Manor Farm drive off Jones, it appears that day has come. But we quickly see that the pigs, by virtue of their leadership of the revolution, quickly become corrupted by power. Napoleon continues to pay lip service to the principles of the revolution through most of the book, but his actions are far removed from the principles of Animalism. He and the other pigs begin to claim privileges for themselves, and eventuallly he uses the dogs to purge those who question his authority. Snowball is driven from the farm for dissent, and gradually, the pigs become more like the humans they fought to overthrow. The corruption of the principles of the revolution is illustrated by the changing Seven Commandments, which are perverted over the course of the book to the point where, at the end, they read only "ALL ANIMALS ARE EQUAL BUT SOME ANIMALS ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS." The book's final passage, when some of the animals witness the pigs arguing and playing cards with Pilkington and the other humans in the farmhouse, makes the corruption of power most clear:

Twelve voices were shouting in anger, and they were all alike. No question, now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. 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.

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maryam-a412 | Student

Lord Acton quotes "Power corrupts and absolute power absolutely." Animal Farm is a true depiction of this quote. the pigs attain power initially. when they exercise that power and see the after math of it, they are delighted. this is a very common idea that every powerful man gets corrupted at some point in his journey to attain power. corruption is inevitable in power. this ultimatum is depicted in animal farm. the pigs revel the power they are bestowed with. although the start is filled with sincerity to confer freedom to animals from the brutal humans but soon their motive gets tainted with private lust for power. when the pigs are granted a little power, they see its effect is good. everyone respects them, they start leading all and this leadership, the ability to dictate a huge group arouses thirst to attain more power. to gain more power they get corrupted. and soon they are mere doppelgangers of what they previously stood against-the humans. power goes hand in hand with corruption. power is not just a word but a force, a very moving force which compels man to enact many actions. it makes him corrupt and dangerous and the sole reason is lust for power. this lust is also evident when the trio of pigs later compete in the race for power. the once united house is now divided all due to power.

another brilliant example of power and corruption is Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare.

wilsonzahra | Student


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Animal Farm

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