Animal Farm notes
Our first essay: Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. How does Orwell show this…
We must analyse how the pigs undermine Old Major’s views and values; how they entrench their rule for their own benefit; undermine the commandments. The pigs use a range of tactics to silence oppression.
Napoleon – absolute power corrupts absolutely.
- subtle erosion of rights and usurps privileges for the pigs
- undermines the commandments in order to gain greater privileges
- establishes himself as a Leader
- discredits opposition/ Snowball
- rewrites history – Battle of the Cowshed
- nurtures the cult of the personality/leader – stimulate fear and adoration
- uses violence to intimidate the animals
- uses powerful propaganda machine/language / literacy skills to brainwash and manipulate the pigs.
Power corrupts. And absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Orwell suggests that those in a position of power often exploit their power to give themselves privileges. Their main priority is to protect their power base and to provide themselves with a level of comfort and status that they think they deserve. The pigs are not concerned with the overall improvement and quality of life of the animals. Their first infringement is the theft of the milk and then the apples which they justify as necessary for their “brain power”. These actions go against /undermine/ contradict the rules of equality as set out by Old Major (such as “……” ). They also enjoy the case of whiskey that they discover in Mr Jones’ cellar (77) . Eventually, they sleep in the master’s bed which Orwell suggests, reflects their similarities to Mr Jones. They come to resemble their previous masters which spells the failure of the animals’ revolution. The pigs reflect Orwell’s view that those in a position of power will give themselves extra privileges in a deceptive manner and fail to protect the interests of the animals in general.
Furthermore, Orwell also suggests that the pigs constantly reinforce their power through brutal means, which also brings them a sense of satisfaction. In many ways, they appear to be intoxicated by the power they enjoy; power brings with it an inflated sense of one’s own importance which they use to oppress the other animals. Napoleon follows a secret agenda which is to raise the puppies as his “military” soldiers. These “nine enormous dogs” with “snapping jaws” are always kept close to Napoleon and then unleashed for maximum damage when he gives the orders to spread fear. (Undermines the commandment: that no animal should kill another animal.” ) Furthermore, they spread misinformation in order to inflate their own sense of importance and to squash any attempts at rebellion. Orwell draws attention to the Battle of the Cowshed to show how the pigs seek to change history in order to consolidate their status and power. Napoleon is depicted as the sole founder of the revolution. Contrastingly, they use Snowball as a scapegoat, which Orwell suggests is a useful tactic for those who wish to enjoy a sense of absolute power.
If Napoleon and Squealer are intent on consolidating their power, Snowball tries to implement the ideological basis as outlined by Old Major, proving that it is not inevitable that one becomes corrupted by power. Snowball sets up committees and conducts Sunday meetings which is an attempt at including the animals and encouraging them to work for their mutual economic prosperity. Orwell describes him as being “best at writing” and is the one who was instrumental in reducing Old Major’s theories to the main points or the seven commandments. Snowball was the one who was able to balance himself best on the ladder as one who seemed to be keen to implement Old Major’s policies that … Snowball seeks to inspire the pigs to collect the hay “as a point of honour” so as to prove that the animals were worthy of their new roles/ownership. Napoleon sends Snowball out in front (while he confiscates the milk). There is a sense that Snowball is not complicit in this act of fraud/theft (18). Snowball runs the committees and Napoleon is more interested in educating the “young” Most importantly Snowball is instrumental in drawing up the plans for the windmill which will lay the foundations for economic prosperity. (38) but he is soon expelled. There are also four other pigs that question Napoleon. They do not agree that the Sunday Meetings should be abolished. They are forced to confess to the crime of treason and subversion (61).
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