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Animal Farm and The Power and the Glory

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    In Animal Farm, George Orwell satirized the betrayal of Russia's revolution by its leaders. We see how the whole concept of equality was flawed, especially as it translated into actual reality and practise. What made it even more fascinating was that it was an animal story that was told to adults. In other words, in the simplest language, Orwell showed how and why communism simply could not work. Graham Greene, meanwhile, was also very serious in Power and the Glory — as well as theological. Here we see the story of a whisky priest who is hunted by Communist authorities during the religious persecution in Mexico. In other words, both Orwell and Greene focus on the reality of totalitarianism, and especially how such totalitarianism is carried through in the interest of supposed utopian ideas. In both stories, there are two villains, Napoleon and the lieutenant, both of whom represent the corruption of power.

    In Green's book, the whisky priest feels a sense of worthlessness. He is a heavy drinker and has fathered an illegitimate child and yet he is determined to continue to function as a priest until captured. He is contrasted with Padre José, a priest who has accepted marriage and embodies humiliation. In many respects, we see here the story of human redemption, as well as human suffering. At the same time, the priest is being hunted down by the lieutenant, who has completely lost a sense of justice and has allowed power to completely take over his sense of right and wrong. He has been completely corrupted by power.

    Both authors deal with metaphor in a very deep sense. Animal Farm is a story of the revolt of Farmer Jones's livestock against their brutal, drunken owner. Here we see the story of the Russian revolution. The venerable boar, Old Major, is the philosopher of the revolution. His ringing words to the clandestine assemblage of animals remind them that their lives are too unhappy. The system that is set up is no fair to them, and they do not receive the fruits of their own labour. While ascribing all their troubles to "man," his speech ends with the warning: "Above all, no animal must ever tyrannize over his own kind. Weak or strong, clever or simple, we are all brothers. All animals are equal." Here we see the basic philosophy behind the Russian revolution. The idea was based on the fact that there would be no hierarchy, and that there would be equality for all. And yet, within this theme, we see how absolute power will corrupt even the most ideal dream.

    Orwell continues his story, as the barnyard is roused to revolution. Led by the pigs, the animals rout Jones and take possession. Thus, "Jones's Manor" is now called "Animal Farm." This is how the country Russia was made the Soviet Union. At first, morale is high. Victory is appears to be very sweet for the liberated animals. Utopia appears to be at the threshold, as equality and fraternity appear to be the mark of the day. Thus, at first, the animals have very much in joy at the prospect of living out their lives in dignity, sharing in the prosperity their labour produces. Here we see the very idea of Marxism: that workers will 3 be able to reap the production of their own labour. Each works hard to sustain the revolution. Yes, indeed, from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs.

    But then, as the revolution turned sour in Russia, so too equality and freedom are stripped in the Animal Farm. The pigs, under Napoleon, a ruler as brutal as Jones was, develop a ruling elite that abrogates all privilege to itself at the expense of the "lower" animals. Thus, Napoleon, like the lieutenant, has completely been destroyed by the sense of power. Napoleon might have at one stage believed in the concept of equality and social justice, but now, with power in his own hands, he begins to completely abuse it. Here we see what Lenin and Stalin had done with their own power. In many respects, they were even more totalitarian than the regime that they replaced.

    In the end, it is very ironic that the pigs explain that they really don't like the milk that they refuse to share with the other animals; they drink it only to keep up their strength so that they can pursue the welfare of all. This irony shows how the revolution has been destroyed by power itself. And Napoleon represents this well.

    Lies and terror begin to rule "Animal Farm." In the ultimate reversal of Old Major's words, the famous quote is made: "all animals are created equal, but some animals are more equal than others." (Orwell, p.114) Here we see the contradiction in Stalinism: for Stalin ultimately became a dictator, and yet the whole idea was that the system was supposed to be one of equality. One form of repression was simply replaced by another. In the end, the unhappy animals are looking in the window at an economic summit between Men and Pigs. They notice that there is no difference between man and pig.

    Orwell finishes his story with tragedy, and this is only reality, since the Soviet Union, as we know, crushed the dream of fairness and equality. All the brave hopes are in ruins on "Animal Farm." Virtue is crushed and wickedness triumphs. We see, more than anything else, the tragedy of a situation when any kind of centralization of power occurs. Napoleon represents this betrayal of good intentions, and how power corrupts even the best of intentions.

    More than anything else, in "Animal Farm," we see that revolutions led by power-hungry people can only lead to a change of masters. Revolutions only succeed in improvement if the masses are alert and know how to get rid of their leaders as soon as they are not doing their job. This is why democracy is so important. More than anything else, the book tells us that freedom is fragile and precious and that, most importantly, power corrupts, and there are forces at work seeking to control it.

    The famous slogan in Animal Farm, "All animals are equal but some are more equal than others" is very famous. The slogan obviously means that some animals (the pigs) are more equal (are more important and higher up on the hierarchy) than others. Being "more equal" obviously means excelling in certain ways and being superior to others, just as the pigs in Animal Farm claim to be more equal than, and superior to, the other animals.

    More than anything else, we see that communism is a romantic illusion, and that it is unrealistic to believe that equality can be created when we know that humans are equal in character and intelligence. Thus, social and economic inequalities might just be the way that the human condition is. And yet, surely this does not mean that we must not struggle against the worst inequalities on the social, economic, and educational levels of our society. At the same time, we must be careful, for the notion of equality, as we see in this book, can be very vulnerable to cynical manipulation by those who hijack it. This is why it must be stressed that this book is also, obviously, not just about capitalism. The reality of power corrupting human beings is applicable to very system and human situation.

    Meanwhile, while Orwell struggles with the concept of equality and its relationship with loss of freedom, Graham looks at how the human being can spoil in terms of the spiritual realm, and how this happens. Graham explores corruption and atonement through his story of the priest — and the people he encounters. The story focuses on the 1930s and how one Mexican state has outlawed the Church, naming it a source of greed and debauchery. The priests have been rounded up and shot by firing squad — except one: the whisky priest. On the run, and in a blur of alcohol and fear, this priest meets a dentist, a banana farmer, and a village woman, with whom we see some "unpriestly" things occur.

    While the police lieutenant is chasing this "whisky priest," we struggle with this degraded alcoholic who still strives to be human and good in God's eyes. Yet the lieutenant is the one with power, and yet he has no struggle left within himself. He has lost the battle with the concept of justice, and power has completely taken over his morality. The lieutenant, just like Napoleon, represents the corruption of power.

    Yes, he has broken most of his vows, but he still performs his priestly duties until the very end, when he is finally captured and executed. In many respects, we see the story here of the attempt to be human, and to try to remain good in God's eyes while being a sinner. The priest feels unworthy of God, and yet he still tries to save others. In this humility, we see a great lesson.

    Both of these great works are reflections of the human situation. Orwell's satire leaves us contemplating the question of power, and how power us abused. And yet, while we see how power can be abused in the name of equality, we see that power can be abused in all cases. Napoleon in "Animal Farm," has clearly abused his power. He has begun with good intentions, or with the articulation of good intentions, and yet he ends up using power for his own interests. The same with the lieutenant in the "Power and the Glory." We see how he ends up being a despot, and that his persecution and chase of the priest is, just like Napolean's behaviour, the reflection of a totalitarian and corrupted mind. All types of writing tasks you can order at


    • George Orwell, Animal Farm (Middlesex: Penguin Books, 1951).
    • Greene, Graham. The Power and The Glory (New York, 1977)

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