“Power tends to corrupt andabsolute power corrupts absolutely” (Dalberg Acton). This quote clearlyepitomizes what the book Animal Farmby George Orwell is about. Animal farmis a satire through which Orwell indirectly attacks the Russian Revolution and itsleaders’ inability to properly practice communism during the Stalinist era.Orwell uses animals to depict the brutal dictatorship and the inequality of theSoviet Union. Animal Farm isessentially about how a farm seized by animals is unfairly governed. Orwell’s eloquentemployment of a satire in Animal Farmaides him in his criticism of the governing bodies of the Russian Revolution byexposing how power can corrupt leaders through the loss of morals, and greed.
To begin with, Orwell’s application of a satire bolsters hisexposition of how power can adversely alter one’s morals. “All animals areequal, but some animals are more equal than others” (92). The aforementionedexcerpt from Animal Farm displaysthe most prominent evidence of the pigs losing their morals. This quote writtenby Squealer on the barn wall is the last standing commandment, and reveals howmuch the pigs have converged with the humans’ ideology and thereby backtrackingon their original idea that animals are all to be equals. At first, the pigs wantedto create a society where “all animals are equal” (18), and a society where theanimals are as separated from human traits as much as possible. “No animalshall wear clothes” (17) or live in the farmhouse.
These are the morals thatall the animals should live by, but the pigs lose their morals as they gainmore power. The pigs erase all the commandments as their power grows, and alterthe only one left to fit their needs as they became more human like. Theyforget all about what their revolution stands for, and, instead, startfraternizing with the enemy. The pigs go from being the oppressed workers onthe farm to being the architects of the socialistic farm and to finally beingthe oppressing dictators on the farm. Orwell’s use of a satire helped him getthis theme across to the reader about the pigs’ transformation into dictators.His use of irony in his satire emphasized his point even more. The pigs contradicted each one of their commandments by the end of the novel, and it made it moreobvious for the reader to understand that as their power grew, they lost all oftheir morals. By exposing the vices of the pigs, the satire plays well todepict the degradation of the morals which strikes a similarity with theleadership of the Russian revolution.
Furthermore, Orwell’s message of howpower can corrupt leaders through greed is aided by the use of a satire. “Atthis there was a terrible baying sound outside, and nine enormous dogs wearingbrass-studded collars came bounding into the barn. They dashed straight forSnowball, who only sprang from his place just in time to escape their snappingjaws” (37). This quote is the epitome of the greed in Animal Farm. In this scene, Napoleon uses his trained demon dogs torun Snowball off the farm.
He ruthlessly suppressed his competition and madehis dictatorship stronger. Napoleon is ravenous for more power, and is willingto abolish Snowball just to get more control. Snowball could have positivelyaffected the betterment of the farm, but Napoleon was more interested in personalgain than helping his farm prosper. Originally, Napoleon was interested in thebetterment of the farm, but as the story progressed, he became moreegotistical. Napoleon was not only greedy about power, but he also wanted moreapples and milk for himself instead of sharing the wealth with all the animals.”The importance of keeping the pigs in good health was all too obvious.
So itwas agreed without further argument that the milk and the windfall apples (andalso the main crop of apples when they ripened) should be reserved for the pigsalone” (25). This quote shows how, through manipulation, the pigs are able toconvince the other animals that they should get most of the food in order tokeep them in good health, and in turn keep the farm running for a longer time.Though this is what they tell the other animals, the pigs just want more foodeven though they do the least amount of work.
This is noteworthy as the pigswere the ones, at first, who believed that all animals were equal. “Somehow itseemed as though the farm had grown richer without making the animalsthemselves any richer—except, of course, the pigs and the dogs” (88).As they gained more power, the pigs lost sight of their socialistic views, andhow all the animals are equal.
The power corrupted them, and the pigs began tobecome greedier. Most of the fruits of the animals’ labor were enjoyed by thepigs while less and less was handed over to the animals. The pigs viewedthemselves as the privileged ones, and thus pampered themselves with luxuries,food, and comfort while letting their fellow animals suffer. This story line ofAnimal Farm bolstersOrwell’scriticism of the leaders of the Russian Revolution by creating astraightforward scenario and making each animal characterize one human traitfrom the leaders of the Russian Revolution.
One can clearly see that the pigsgot greedier as their power expanded. Orwell’s use of a satire helped thereader thoroughly comprehend how power can negatively affect one’s morals. To conclude, Orwell’s use of asatire in Animal Farm assisted him inhis criticism of the leaders of the Russian Revolution by exposing how powercan corrupt leaders through loss of morals, and greed.
The satire wasadvantageous in conveying the themes of the story by using irony andpersonification of the animals. By taking such simple creatures, like animals,and giving them undue power and human characteristics; Orwell was able to makea direct connection to the Russian Revolution through a satirical lens. One maystart off with good intentions, but the intoxication of power can take over unlessit is kept in check.