© 2014 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.
Animal Farm

Animal Farm

by George Orwell

Power: Leadership and Corruption Theme

There's a reason you don't want your prom queen to also be your school president: absolute power corrupts absolutely, and pretty soon she'll be sending out her minions to stake out the best parking spot. In Animal Farm, the pigs no sooner weasel their way into power than they start taking milk for themselves—and pretty soon, they've moved on to harder stuff. Like whiskey. So, is there any hope? Does Orwell offer any model of government that doesn't just get corrupted?

Questions About Power: Leadership and Corruption

  1. Are the pigs self-serving from the start, or are they corrupted by their power? (By the way, the world has never been able to agree on this.)
  2. What qualities allow the pigs to gain power in the first place, and what qualities enable them to keep their power? Are these different?
  3. How do you define power, anyway? What does it mean to have power on Animal Farm? Is it possible for leaders to have this kind of power without abusing it?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Although they definitely get worse as the story progresses, the pigs are greedy from the start.

When Napoleon takes over, Animal Farm is doomed. Snowball was no angel, but he was a sound leader. Napoleon is just bad to the (delicious) bone.

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement