Abuse Of Power In George Orwell's Animal Farm
George Orwell’s “Animal Farm” examines the crafty ways in which leaders can abuse their power. This is demonstrated through the character “Napoleon” as we see many ideas of the pig being the only character interested in power.
Napoleon obtains power through elimination. Napoleon had eliminated any competition he faced especially those who worked for the betterment of the farm. These actions have been completed both through Napoleon but also through the commandments that Napoleon had given to other animals, already showing his influence on the farm. His dictatorship is shown as he stands with a “pile of corpses lying” beneath his feet whilst “the tale of confessions and executions went on.” The phrase “pile of corpses lying” creates an image of bloody corpses standing at Napoleon’s feet demonstrating his power as bodies lay beneath him. He becomes a tyrant as he is capable of having his “comrades” put to death to protect his position. This is further shown through Snowball’s expulsion as he continues to use Snowball as a scapegoat to maintain the loyalty and trust from his “comrades”. Napoleon uses cunning tactics to mess with the animals as he questions them, causing them to think hard to limited knowledge. “Comrades, do you know who is responsible for this? Do you know the enemy who has come in the night and overthrown our windmill? SNOWBALL!”
The use of the military language ‘comrades’ creates unity whilst also creating a hierarchy as Napoleon slyly uses the tactic to embed false memories of Snowball to scare the animals into submission. This creates an allusion to the Soviet leader- Josef Stalin. This reflects the Stalinist purges and mirrors trials of the 1930s. This conveys Napoleon becoming a symbol of tyranny, just as Stalin did in the Soviet Union.
Napoleon initiatives and decisions as a leader, always solely benefitted him. This is shown through Boxer- the most loyal, hard-working “comrade” on the farm. Napoleon abuses his loyalty by getting all the work out him, tiring the poor horse till exhaustion. Then Napoleon proceeds to sell him to the “knackers” to get last possible bits of money out of him. To avoid any backlash, Napoleon uses the convincing speeches of Squealer as a way of preventing the animals being enraged by the killing of Boxer. He continuously questions the animals making them feel guilty for thinking negative about him as he gets Squealer to emotionally talk his way out of trouble, “You do not imagine, I hope, that we pigs are doing this in a spirit of selfishness and privilege? Many of us actually dislike milk and apples…” The use of the second person plural “you” conveys how it is directly said to the animals, making them pause and think about their actions, immediately pushing them into submission. The pigs continue as they are the “brainworkers” of the farm, and they are doing it for the sake of the animals. He reasons that since they are the “brains” of the farm, their whole existence depends on them, brainwashing the animals to thinking this was done for their benefit.
Napoleon continues his hypocritical behaviour as he took away any privileges and benefits for others. He also abolished anything that would potentially weaken his position as a leader. Napoleon had announced that there would be work on Sunday afternoons as well. This work was “strictly voluntary”, but however any animal that had absented themselves from it would have their rations reduced by half. Napoleon uses the word “voluntary”, yet the fact that it will still result in reduced rations means there is no choice for the animals yet again. Whenever he thinks an animal does not think he works hard, he will get Squealer to make a speech on how difficult it is to be leader and how it is a burden, not a blessing. “Do not imagine, comrades, that leadership is a pleasure…” Once again, the word “comrades” to trick the animals into thinking there is no hierarchy and all the “animals are equal” when, quite the opposite is happening. This reinforces into the animals’ limited minds’ they would not be able to take the role of a “leader” when it was to make sure the animals would not rebel against Napoleon taking full control of the farm. Napoleon keeps the animals busy so that they don’t realise what is happening: the pigs leading a luxurious life whilst the animals are getting thinner and thinner. Squealer was “so fat that he could with difficulty see out of his eyes,” whilst the animals “worked like slaves.” George Orwell presents Napoleon as a representation of Joseph Stalin, who like Napoleon, lead a revolution that turned into a dictatorship. During Stalin’s time in power, the country was gripped by famine and fear as millions starved to death and those who imposed him were imprisoned or killed, mirroring exactly Napoleon’s behaviour as he becomes a selfish, controlling leader who prioritises himself and his power over the struggles of his “comrades."