Animal Farm Analysis Essay

Lust for Leadership and Power in Animal Farm

Lust for leadership and power is best illustrated by George Orwell in his allegorical satirical book, Animal Farm. The novella Animal Farm was first published in 1945, amid the United Kingdom's conflict with the Soviet Union. The book takes a thoughtful look at the important events that led up to the iconic 1917 Russian Revolution, which heroically ushers in the Stalinist era. Orwell, a critic of Stalin's authority and policies, believed that Stalin's Soviet Union had devolved into a harsh dictatorship characterized by a massive thirst for leadership and power, as well as a strong cult of personality fostered by the reign of terror. The book was a heavy critic of the Joseph Stalin, the socialist ideologies hugely depicting the greed Soviet leaders showcased in their reign of terror as discussed subsequently.

Plot summary

In the story, several animal characters are used by Orwell to create a satirized animalistic allegory of the problems of sociology. Old major, identified as the old boar begins by summoning all the animals in Mr. Jones’ farm to come together in a meeting where he refers to the human owners as enemies. In order to ensure that the animals get a tight grasp of his ideologies, he teaches them a song Beasts of England that portrays the errs in human leadership (Orwell 9). Following the death of old Major, two other youngsters Snowball and Napoleon (pigs) assumed the leadership mantle and worked towards organizing a rebellion. In that rebellion, they drove their drunken farm leader, Mr. Jones out of the farm consequently renaming the farm, Animal Farm. They then developed seven commandments that they believed could be followed by the animals central of which was the controversial “All animals are equal” commandment (Orwell 112).

Initial Prosperity and Turmoil

Initially, everything in the Animal farm was a fairy tale, Snowball taught the animals reading and writing as Napoleon educated the young puppies what he believed were the principles Animalism. The animal farm was moving on smoothly as food and other supplies were in plenty but the problem started when the pigs, leaders, ostensibly set aside some special foods for themselves. Turmoil sets in as several people attack the Animal Farm led by Jones and other farmers that were afraid that similar revolts could occur in their farms as well. Snowball and several animals manage to foil off the attack through several ambushes that involved a series of surprise attacks as the men entered the farmyard. The popularity of Snowball grows immensely following this repulsion in what Orwell calls the “The Battle of the Cowshed” (Orwell 24). Napoleon further elevates himself to pre-eminence as Snowball makes known his interests of modernizing the farm by setting up a windmill.

Napoleon's Rise to Power

Napoleon seems unhappy with the idea and orders the dogs to chase Snowball away subsequently declaring himself the leader. Napoleon then makes changes to the governance structure in which the meetings were replaced by a simple committee of pigs and claims that the windmill idea was his through Squealer. The animals then work harder to have the windmill finished with promises of better lives after its finished killing whichever animal was opposed to the idea using the dogs and also replaces Beasts of England with a song praising him. One of the neighboring farmers attacks the farm once more using blasting powder, the animals won the battle but Boxer, the bravest worker losses his life after the battle as his sick body was secretly sold by Napoleon to a knacker.

The Corruption of Power

After several years, the mill was finally completed together with the construction of another mill but the original ideas of including electric lighting, running water and heating are abandoned as Napoleon told animals that the happiest animals live simple lives. The pigs start to resemble humans as most of the animals that had participated in the revolution die. These pigs then start to walk on two legs upright, wearing clothes and carrying whips. The initial seven commandments are further abridged to one phrase: "All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others" (Orwell 112). Napoleon then holds a party with local farmers and other pigs celebrating the alliance and abolishes the old revolutionary traditions renaming the farm the Major Farm. As the animals look more like humans, they stop having a distinction between animals and humans.

Theme of Greed

Throughout the entire book, Orwell portrays the theme of power and leadership recurring all through. It is a story of heavy corruption by power-hungry leaders who want to accumulate all the resources to themselves at the hands of the suffering citizens that toil so much. Orwell attempts to focus on despotism and its evolution as the Animal Farm advances as this is portrayed by Napoleon’s manipulation of the established commandments. When Orwell presents the sheep and horses talking and the pigs walking on two legs, he presents human nature in the form of satire. Just like the behavior of humans, Orwell tends to show animals can grow with power in a similar way to humans along which change comes in. It also shows how tyrannical leaders can manipulate the conscious of people to foster their own ambitions at the expense of everyone else. For instance, following the death of Old Major, who advocated for equality amongst all animals and collective progress, a battle instead erupts between Snowball and Napoleon after his death. They all want to further Old Major’s primary goals but Napoleon wins the battle through manipulation.

The Misuse of Power

Furthermore, the novel tells of how dictatorial leaders can gain and concentrate power to themselves. It shows how such power, if misused, can lead to destruction, especially if in the hands of selfish and wrong people. Such power may lead to the oppression of the others, stealing of resources at the mercy of the poor people, and a loss of life if the power is misused. For instance, in the novel, the superior pig who gets in charge of the farm gains authority. Appoints fellow pigs to oversee all the activities on the farm as well as punishing non-conformists using his army of dogs. Such scenarios are apparent in dictatorships created by strong communist and socialist ideologies. The leaders tend to bring family and close people close to the circles of power while unlawfully killing whoever is opposed to their kind of leadership. Such a fate was very apparent in the greedy leaders of the Soviet Union at the time the novel was written. In the novel, Napoleon brainwashed the animals into a life of misery and hard labor that took away some of their lives. He becomes even worse than the original owners of the farm. That indicates that dictators that come to power without the choice of people or through a democratic vote will always force people to follow their ideologies through brainwashing them and will also keep them in abject poverty to foster their goals.

Unfair Treatment and Cult of Personality

Furthermore, greedy and dictatorial leaders tend to treat people unfairly yet create an environment where people cannot speak out their problems for fear of being condemned to death. Such unlawful killings were very apparent during Soviet Russia as people were condemned to death simply by being opposed to the uncouth political ideologies propounded by Stalin. People who could attempt to speak out disappeared mysteriously as Stalin eliminated all kinds of opposition. Such cruel conduct by dictatorial leaders is still apparent in the post-Soviet world as leaders of countries that follow the Soviet model like North Korea can kill whoever disagrees with them.

These corrupt and tyrannical leaders will also try to associate themselves with all developments in the country often establishing a cult of personality where the population will see them as the heroes and saviors of the land. In the novel, Napoleon associates himself with the windmill, telling all the animals that it was his solemn idea. He further proceeds to alter the commandments of the farm, ushering in those that he felt could favor his irrational ideals. He ensures that the new commandments set in place favor him and his fellow pigs. That is exactly how dictators behave, they tend to alter the constitutions of their countries to favor their uncouth political ambitions.


Thus, the Animal Farm shows that although power is important, it can be misused if it lies in the hands of the wrong individuals. Such individuals will wrongly use the resources of the country for their own sake at the expense of other people. Such leaders will then alter all the laws of the land, accumulate resources to themselves, and kill whoever does not believe in their political agenda. The Animal Farm is thus a portrayal of the greed, corruption, and tyranny that may be associated with leadership.

Works cited

Orwell, George. Animal farm. Vol. 31. Penguin UK, 2000.

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