Describe at least one idea that changed your perspective (point of view) in the written text. Explain how this idea changed your perspective.
An idea that changed my perspective in George Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’ is how power corrupts. Napoleon (a power hungry, selfish, and controlling boar who represents Joseph Stalin - brutal leader of the Soviet Union) has a desire for power and domination over the farm. This idea of power corrupts changed my
perspective on many governments and leaders around the world, because I realised that leaders can be corrupt. Just like Napoleon, many leaders use their power to exploit and use others for their own selfishness and greed.
George Orwell wrote the novella, ‘Animal Farm’ as a warning against totalitarianism. After World War 2, where he observed Nazi Germany and communist Russian totalitarian societies. Orwell’s intent was to inform and educate readers about dictatorial governments. In ‘Animal Farm’, Napoleon is illustrated as a cruel and selfish dictator. He is slowly overrun by power and begins to abuse it - showing that power corrupts.
Firstly, an idea that changed my perspective in ‘Animal Farm’ is how power corrupts. Orwell highlights this idea when Napoleon changes the Seven Commandments (laws that the animals have to follow to keep them equal) of Animalism (a system where all animals have the right to freedom and equality, and where man is the enemy). For example, Napoleon uses his power and manipulation to change the commandment, ‘No animal shall drink alcohol’, to ‘No animal shall drink alcohol… to excess’, in order to gain the privilege of drinking alcohol. Napoleon does not care if he gets drunk because it is for his own pleasure and greed.
This idea changed my perspective on leaders because it shows how easily ideals (like Animalism) can be corrupted by people who are power hungry. For example, Joseph Stalin (who Napoleon represents) and Kim Jong-un, supreme leader of North Korea. These types of leaders are dangerous because they let power corrupt them. Orwell is showing his readers that dictators (and many other leaders) have more freedom and rights that regular people because they can often do anything they desire to. If a dictator breaks or changes the law for their own personal gain, they will not be punished. Napoleon gets away with changing the Seven Commandments because he is a corrupt leader who can do what he wishes.
Secondly, the idea of power corrupts changed my perspective, and Orwell highlights this idea when Napoleon gets Squealer (Napoleon’s second-in-command pig who represents Russian newspaper Pravda - propaganda) to lie to the other animals and say that the pigs need the windfall apples that the animals had harvested, and milk because it would be “good” for their brain function. Squealer says to the animals “milk and apples (this has been proven by science comrades) contains substances absolutely necessary to the well-being of a pig. We pigs are brain workers.” Napoleon has used his power to get Squealer to lie to the uneducated animals (who believe anything they are told) because of his own greed.
This idea changed my perspective on leaders because Orwell shows how the lack of education in a population can lead to an unethical leader, who uses lies and propaganda to manipulate an ignorant society for their own corrupt ends. Napoleon has taken advantage of the ill-educated animals who will listen to anything they’re told. In real life society, leaders find it easier to control and manipulate badly educated populations. In North Korea, all information and education is controlled, and the citizens have no idea about the truth and the outside world.
Furthermore, the idea of power corrupts changed my perspective, and Orwell highlights this idea when Napoleon betrays Boxer (a hard working yet naive cart horse who represents the average backbone of society) by fooling him into thinking he will be treated for his injury, but instead Napoleon sends him to the slaughter house for money to buy alcohol. Napoleon does this even though Boxer was extremely hard working, “I will work harder” and always followed Napoleon’s orders, “Napoleon is always right”.
Squealer lies and tells the other animals that Boxer was sent to the hospital but unfortunately, the doctors couldn’t cure him, and that he died praising Animal Farm. Napoleon gives a speech, “Dear comrade Boxer shall be remembered for as long as Animal Farm exists. As he said in his last words, long live Animal Farm!” to cover up the truth about really happened to Boxer and to make himself look good.
This idea changed my perspective on leaders because Orwell shows that many leaders will abuse the rights of their citizens and use them for their own gain. Many leaders only care about themselves and suck the population dry for their own benefit. Whether it be harsh working conditions (for example, forced labour and cruel conditions in North Korea) or even an unnecessarily large amount of taxes. Napoleon uses the other animals, and lacks kindness and humiliation. He only cares about his own personal gain.
Finally, the idea of how power corrupts changed my perspective and Orwell highlights this idea when Napoleon becomes as cruel and oppressive as a human farmer - the original enemy. Near the end of the novella, Napoleon carries a whip, this whip is a terrible symbol of slavery. Napoleon has complete domination over the animals. He is also seen walking on two legs which is ironic because of the very first commandment, “Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy”.
This idea changed my perspective on leaders because Orwell shows that Napoleon never cared about Animalism - it was just a useful mask to hide behind. His strong desire for power corrupted him, which led to his domination over the farm. All along, Napoleon wanted to be like Farmer Jones (the previous owner of the farm who neglected the animals, was an alcoholic, and had complete power over them) who the animals originally chased off the farm in the name of Animalism. Napoleon finally changes the commandment, ‘Four legs good, two legs bad’ to, ‘Four legs good, two legs better’. Orwell shows that many leaders hide behind a mask - for example, a nice friendly smile, or political slogans. However, they are just power hungry and will do anything to stay in authority over others.
The idea of how power corrupts in George Orwell’s, ‘Animal Farm’ is still relevant today because we live in a world where people are more interested in entertainment than education, and more interested in political slogans than policies, thereby lacking real understanding of the truth. Societies like this are ripe for corrupt leaders. In ‘Animal Farm’, Napoleon became corrupted by power and was not afraid of killing and lying to get his own way. In real life, many leaders are also not afraid to do anything to gain more control and power. They love the feeling of being in power (as most people do). However, if they receive too much power, they can become corrupted by it and become a danger to society. Kim Jong-un is a perfect example of a corrupt leader, who has a huge amount of power over the population of North Korea. He is cruel and dangerous and many people “disappear” in the country or are tortured. Orwell teaches the readers that many governments can become dangerous if they are corrupted by power.
In conclusion, an idea that changed my perspective in George Orwell’s, ‘Animal Farm’ is how power corrupts. Orwell changed my perspective on leaders by showing how Napoleon undermines the Seven Commandments for his own greed, how he uses propaganda and lies to fool the animals into giving him what he wants (milk and apples, how he sells and betrays Boxer for money for alcohol, and how he gains complete dominance over the farm and carries a whip and walks on two legs to show that he has become like man. George Orwell has taught me that many leaders should not be trusted.