Lord of the Flies and Animal Farm
Percy Bysshe Shelley once said, “Power, like a desolating pestilence, pollutes what’er it touches.” He meant that when somebody acquires a reasonable amount of control or power over others, that dominance will eventually corrupt them.The corruption can quickly get to the point of extreme savagery emerging over respectable leadership, causing the people who are being ruled to suffer great hardship.
This is exemplified in the novel, Lord of the Flies, by William Golding and in the film, Animal Farm, directed by John Halas and Joy Batchelor.
In Lord of the Flies Jack begins as an innocent young choir boy who later on rises as a leader and turns into a vicious savage when the power goes to his head. Similarly in Animal Farm Napoleon initially promotes equality for all, but soon becomes corrupt and desires full power and control above all of the animals other after he gains authority. Both texts show that people will do almost anything to obtain and keep power whether it is fear or violence. In Lord of the flies Ralph is originally elected as the leader of the island, this was due to Ralph summoning the rest of the boys using the conch.
The conch represents power, civilisation and order in the novel as it gives whoever is holding it the power of speech. As the boys became less civilised and more savage the conch started to deteriorate so did the boys society. Ralph led the boys with fairness, order and rules. He set jobs for the boys and listed goals he considered important to achieve. The main goal he set was to be rescued he considered a signal fire the best way to get the attention of a passing ship. Jack thought that gathering meat and hunting was the most important goal.
Jack became leader of the hunters this was his first step into gaining absolute power. On the first hunt Jack was unable to kill the pig. This shows that at this point Jack still had morals and was not yet corrupt. Eventually Jack was able to kill a pig this shows Jacks loss of innocence and the start of his corrupt behaviour. Jack’s power soon escalates he offers the other boys meat, which is deemed as important by nearly all of the boys except for Ralph and Piggy. Jack soon starts his own tribe all the boys, bar Ralph and Piggy join up.
This gives Jack what he had hoped for all along absolute power over the island. Jack and the boys now participates in daily hunts this shows Jacks corruption at its largest extent as after each hunt Jack becomes more and more savage and his power constantly grows along with it. Jack also uses fear of the beast to gain more power. Jack gave a sense of security and safety from the beast so the boys wouldn’t leave his tribe. Jack also controls the hunters who are the strongest and most savage on the island.
The other boys are too afraid to leave Jack’s tribe as they fear they will be hunted. In Animal Farm, Snowball is originally elected as leader after their evil human owner is overthrown. Snowball treats all the other animals equally. Snowball and the other animals write 7 rules which must be followed by all animals. The seventh and most important rule is “All animals are equal”. This is very similar to Golding’s use of the conch in Lord of the Flies as, the society starts to corrupt the pigs change to rules to keep up with their corrupt ways.
From the beginning of the film Napoleon one of the pigs wants to become sole leader of the farm, even though this would completely contradict the beliefs which all animals agreed on from the start. Showing that Napoleon is a power hungry character from the start, this resembles Jack and his need for power. Napoleon then uses a pack of trained dogs to kill Snowball after an argument. This is Napoleons first use of violence to gain power, this violence generates fear amongst the other animals giving him an easy rise to power.
This resembles Jack and his use of fear to gain power. This is also the beginning of Napoleons rise to complete power. He uses his superior intelligence to convince the other not so intelligent animals that Snowball was a liar and a thief without any proof. While Jack does not possess the intellectual superiority he is still able to convince most of the boys to join his tribe. Once Napoleon and the other pigs move into the old farm house things start to get much worse, as they enjoy the life of luxury the house offers.
They even go to the extent of changing one of the 7 rules from “No animal shall sleep in a bed” to “No animal shall sleep in a bed with sheets. This is clear abuse of power as Napoleon changes the agreed upon rules only benefiting himself and the other pigs. This is again similar to the conch as Jack shows complete disregard for the rule of the conch. That rule of course being, if somebody is holding the conch they talk and everybody else listens. Napoleon soon realises if he trades with people outside the farm then he will be able to gain even more power.
This similar to Jack as he realises that he will be able to generate more power if more people join his tribe. The pigs need the chicken’s eggs to meet their half of a deal, the chickens refuse as the whole point of the original rebellion was to make use the animals were not used again. This is similar to the way Piggy and Ralph act as they refuse to join Jack’s tribe because it goes against what they decided on at the beginning of the novel. The pigs then try to take the chickens eggs by force, but the chickens purposely break their own eggs.
This is another example of Napoleon abusing his power because he thinks because of his power he can do whatever he wants. This is similar to Jack taking Piggy’s glasses as the glasses provided a window to more power. Napoleon makes up a speech claiming the chickens are traitors and that they must be punished to death. This shows that Napoleons greed, corruption and thirst for power has grown to such an extent that he is willing to kill anybody who defies his orders. The animal now fear for their lives when they are told they will be used for trade nobody defies this order.
This closely mirrors Jacks way of leadership, however instead of killing them, Jack often orders them to be physically beaten. The pigs again change the rules reducing all seven into one single phrase “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others”. This rule states what had been evident the whole time that the pigs are superior, or more equal, than any other animal who are all equally below the pigs. This resembles the conch, when the conch was broken it symbolised the death of democracy and thus showing the island was run as a pure dictatorship.
Meaning Jack was “more equal” than his counterparts. The pigs eventually become so powerful that they begin to resemble the humans they replaced, even wearing clothes and walking around on two legs. The pigs have made a full circle becoming as powerful and corrupt as the humans before them. The use of different film techniques also give the viewer the impression the pigs have power, several times a low shot is used looking up at the pigs. This is a textbook technique used to give power or dominance.
In addition there is the use of a high shot looking down at the other animals to show weakness and inferiority. Jack from Golding’s Lord of the Flies and Napoleon from Orwell’s Animal Farm each demonstrate the tormenting effects that positions of authority can cause, especially when asserted for the wrong reasons. In the case of these two characters, power fell into the wrong hands, and as a result, the subjects suffered under oppressive rule, while the leaders reaped the benefits with no mercy.