George Orwell’s novel, ‘Animal Farm’, written between 1943 and 1945, is a satirical allegory of the Russian Revolution. One of the main themes in the novel is the abuse of power. Leaders that have power have the ability to direct and influence others and events. If a leader has the right personality and a disposition which is greedy and selfish, like Napoleon, they can become corrupt and involved in dishonest or fraudulent behaviour to keep the power. Once they gain complete control over others or events they will want more power and will used any means possible to maintain that power. However, not all leaders are corrupt in the novel. Mr Jones the original owner has power and as an alcoholic he mismanages the farm and mistreats the animals, but is not corrupt. Snowball also has power in the beginning, but is far from being corrupt. He is altruistic, kind and caring and does everything to try to follow Old Major’s ideals of Animalism.
Mr Jones as the owner of Manor Farm had power over the farm and the animals, because he was human, but was not corrupt. He was an alcoholic and as a consequence he badly mismanaged the farm. “Mr Jones…….. was too drunk to shut the pop-holes.” He did not treat the animals well and “without bothering to feed the animals…….. he immediately went to sleep on the drawing room sofa.” Nose rings and bits put into the horses’ mouths along ‘with whips in their hands” were used to control the animals. He also killed the animals when they had out lived their usefulness, “young pokers …… you will scream your lives out at the block” and the dogs when they are old “Jones ties a brick round their necks and drowns them.” Although Mr Jones mismanaged the farm and he was cruel, at no time did he lie or try to manipulate the animals, he had power but was not corrupt.
Snowball, on becoming a leader with Napoleon after Old Major’s death, had power but was not corrupt. In fact he was the opposite. He had an altruistic disposition and a kind and caring personality. Snowball tried to develop the ideals of Animalism to make the lives of the animals more comfortable and pleasant. He set up various committees, like the “Egg Production Committee for the hens” and the “Clean Tails League for the cows”. He organised reading and writing classes for the animals to try to educate the animals. His plans for the Windmill would enable the animals to have “electrical power. This would light the stalls and warm them in winter”. It also meant “fantastic machines” driven by electricity like “a chaff-cutter” and “mangel slicer”, would enable the animals to graze “at their ease in the fields or improve their minds” Snowball did all this for the benefit of the animals. He did not lie to the animals or try to manipulate them to his advantage. He was never violent and did not use fear to control the animals. Snowball used his power as a leader for the benefit of all the animals and was not corrupt.
In contrast, when Napoleon came to power he proved to be a greedy, selfish pig, who had “a reputation for getting his own way.” With this personality, once he gained some power he was easily corrupted by the power he had. He, with the other pigs took the milk and apples. Napoleon then used Squealer to lie to the animals and manipulate them. “Many of us actually dislike milk and apples………..the sole object in taking these things is to preserve our health.” Over time the commandments were change to enhance the lives of Napoleon and the pigs. They lived in the farmhouse in comfort. The fourth commandment was changed from “No animal shall sleep in a bed” to “No animal shall sleep in a bed with sheets”, whilst the other animals continued to live in the barn. They ate the best food, Napoleon even had a pig, Pinkeye, taste his food for fear of being poisoned. The pigs also began to drink alcohol “receiving a ration of a pint of beer daily, with half a gallon for Napoleon”, whilst the other animals were “often hungry and often cold”. He continued to use Squealer to lie and manipulate the other animals and had complete control over the animals, isolating himself in the farm house. Once Napoleon was in this position of power, the power corrupted him further and he wanted more power.
Fear and violence enabled Napoleon to continue to have total power over the animals and he became completely corrupt to the point where he killed his own kind to maintain that power. To support Napoleon’s leadership and the changes on Animal Farm, after Snowball’s banishment, Squealer frequently told the animals Mr Jones would come back if they did not abided by the new arrangements. “Surely, comrades, you do not want Jones back? The dogs that accompanied Napoleon frightened the animals to become more subservient and “suddenly the dogs sitting around Napoleon let out deep menacing growls, and the pigs fell silent.” Once Napoleon had total control and power over the animals he used more violence and killed those animals that were considered to be traitors. “And so the tale of confessions and executions went on, until there was a pile of corpses lying before Napoleon’s feet.” The ultimate act of corruption was for Napoleon to send Boxer, the hardest worker on the farm, to the knackers and use the money from the sale “to buy …….. another case of whiskey.” Napoleon as the leader of Animal Farm had absolute power and was absolutely corrupt.
Not all the leaders, Mr Jones and Snowball that had power on Animal Farm were corrupt. Mr Jones mismanaged the farm because of his alcoholism and could be said to be cruel, however, he was not corrupt. Snowball, was a good leader, with a kind and caring personality, who did everything for the benefit of the animals and the farm and was definitely not corrupt. However, Napoleon, due to his greedy, selfish disposition, once he became leader, by using lies and manipulation, fear and violence, he had total power, over Animal Farm and became completely corrupt.