“Animal Farm” as a Dark Satire on the Corrupting Influence of Power Book Review

Posted on November 8, 2023

Book Review Sample

In George Orwell’s “Animal Farm,” the author uses a satirical allegory to highlight the perils of tyranny and the corrupting effects of power. Orwell cautions against the risks of letting leaders grow too powerful and the necessity of being cautious against their deceitful methods with the narrative of a group of farm animals who rebel against their human master and create their own society. Thus, the following analysis challenges to discuss the topics of “Animal Farm” with particular attention paid to how Orwell employs language and propaganda to highlight the corrupting impact of authority and the necessity of defying it.

One of the book’s main themes is the persuasiveness of language and propaganda. Here, the pigs utilize language to control the other animals and keep their position of authority. The characters turn to the same techniques, that authoritarian countries and governments use to maintain power. Orwell shows how animals manipulate language to trick and control the other creatures, which ultimately leads to their demise. The leaders of the animal revolution are pigs, who make benefit of their superior intelligence and communication skills. In order to persuade the other animals that they are the most equipped to make choices and run the farm, the pigs, led by Napoleon, use persuasive language and dogma (Yahya Al-Hilo & Gebreen, 2021, p. 551). Their manipulations are meant to justify their actions and concentrate their power. For example, they revise the commandments of Animalism to suit their own interests and create slogans like “four legs good, two legs bad” to simplify complex ideas and suppress dissent (Orwell, 1945, p. 29). Through similar use of language, the pigs effectively manipulate and deceive the other animals, ultimately establishing a dictatorial rule over the farm.

The corrupting influence of power is another key theme in the book. The pigs take on the roles of idealistic revolutionaries who want to create a utopian society where everyone is equal. However, as they gain more power, they distance from their initial goal and benevolent intentions but begin to oppress the other animals instead. As the pigs receive more leverages of pressure, they become more corrupt and begin to overpower the other animals. For example, when the pigs start to consume more food than they should, they defend it by claiming that they must maintain their strength in order to guide the other animals (Orwell, 1945, p. 56). Another instance of the pigs’ corruption is their use of violence and intimidation to control the other animals. When the animals question the pigs’ leadership, the pigs use their enforcers to intimidate and silence them. Specifically, when the hens refuse to give up their eggs, the pigs order them to be starved into submission (Orwell, 1945, p. 83). Therefore, the discussed pigs’ slow deterioration into tyranny and oppression serves as a bright representation of the theme of the corrupting impact of power.

The pigs’ oppression of the other animals is evident in the hierarchy they create, where they are at the top and the other animals are at the bottom. For example, the pigs move into the farmhouse and begin to sleep in beds, wear clothes, and drink alcohol, while the other animals continue to live in squalor and work long hours in the fields (Orwell, 1945, p. 26). This disparity in living conditions illustrates the pigs’ complete disregard for the well-being of the other animals and their willingness to use their power to maintain their own privilege. The pigs also begin to live in luxury while the other animals work hard and struggle to survive. The illustrated oppression of the other animals is a reflection of the ways in which totalitarian regimes oppress their citizens. The pigs establish and develop a hierarchy where injustices prevail and suppress hard-working animals.

Overall, the animals initially unite with the common goal of overthrowing their human masters and creating an egalitarian society. However, as power shifts into the hands of the pigs, they begin to adopt the very traits they once despised. The novel portrays how power corrupts by highlighting the pigs’ gradual transformation into human-like oppressors, using propaganda, fear tactics, and the rewriting of history to maintain control over the other animals. Orwell cleverly employs animal characters to satirize political figures and systems. For example, Napoleon represents Joseph Stalin and his brutal totalitarian regime, while Snowball symbolizes Leon Trotsky, a rival of Stalin. Through their power struggle and subsequent expulsion of Snowball, Orwell critiques the betrayal and purges that were characteristic of Stalin’s reign.

Consequently, a dramatic depiction of how language can be used to deceive and oppress is seen in “Animal Farm.” The book serves as a warning about the dangers of totalitarianism and the importance of remaining vigilant against the power’s corrupting influence. Orwell illustrates how leaders can be manipulated and tempted by their position of authority. The allegory of the farm animals contributes to displaying how propaganda helps to protect and maintain those leaders’ control. Readers are urged by “Animal Farm” to challenge authority and to be careful of individuals who aim to own total dominance.

Orwell, G. (1945). Animal farm: A fairy story. Secker and Warburg.

Yahya Al-Hilo, M. M., & Gebreen, H. A. (2021). Totalitarianism in George Orwell’s Animal Farm. Randwick International of Education and Linguistics Science Journal, 2(4), 545–554. https://doi.org/10.47175/rielsj.v2i4.318

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