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The Issues of Power and Corruption in Animal Farm and Divergent


“All power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely” is echoed throughout the texts ‘Animal Farm’ (George Orwell, 1945) and Divergent (Neil Burger, 2014). Both texts demonstrate that the struggle for power is deep rooted in corruption and show this by representing that power can not be achieved without it. Furthermore, as soon as a taste of power takes place, the individual/institution craves more and that power is bound up in intellectual supremacy and mental control is utilised for power to be understood. These ideas inherently prove that all power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts definitely since for power to be clutched, corrupt ways should be employed.

First of all, Animal Farm and Divergent both display that power can not be achieved without corruption. The intents of enthusiastic and power hungry characters in both texts are shown through their use of corrupt methods to raise their status.

In Animal Farm we perceive this through “Snowball’s eloquence had carried them away. In radiant sentences … there was no doubt regarding which method the vote would go … Napoleon stood up … nine enormous pets … rushed straight for Snowball …”. Through this use of vivid imagery, we see that Napoleon is securing power by removing his competition through violent ways rather than actually showing himself as the more appropriate candidate. Snowball is the exceptional orator and persuades the animals with his inspiring speech, so Napoleon resorts to violence to assert his dominance, showing that power can not be obtained without corruption.

In Divergent, when 4 is under the impact of a simulation, Jeanine states “… conformity to a faction gets rid of the threat of anyone exercising their independent will”. The dramatic non-diegetic music and close up shots of Jeanine’s intimidating countenance suggest that her power is reliant on oppressing flexibility of thought and speech, avoiding any opposition. Through her use of the serum and plot to damage Abnegation she shows that power can not be achieved without corruption, which she does by manipulating and managing the Dauntless.

The need of corruption to achieve power in Animal Farm is likewise seen through “The animals outside looked from pigs to guy, and from guy to pig … but currently it was impossible to say which was which”. Through the repeating we see that when it pertains to obtaining power, the pigs are similarly totalitarian as the humans which corruption is a common element in between all power figures, including people and pigs. Therefore, Animal Farm and Divergent show that power can not be obtained without corruption so all power tends to corrupt and outright power corrupts definitely.

Second of all, both texts manifest confirmation that as soon as a taste of power occurs, the private or organization craves more. Power can not be attained without corruption, so to acquire more power would require heightened corruption. Because they continue to crave more, corruption would increase until they effectively reach absolute power and outright corruption.

In Animal Farm, “… it was laid down as a rule that when a pig and any other animal fulfilled on the course, the other animal should stand aside: and likewise that all pigs, of whatever degree, were to have the benefit of using green ribbons on their tails on Sundays”. Orwell highlights that as their power over the animals has actually increased, the pigs are ending up being progressively self-centered and producing rules and exemptions from other guidelines for their individual benefit due to the fact that they crave more power and a greater status. This can also be translucented “more fit to the dignity of the leader … to reside in a home than a mere sty”. This usage of paradox stresses that with the apotheosis of their power on Animal Farm, corruption likewise reaches its acme as the pigs see the sty as ‘simple’, even though they have spent their whole lives there.

In Divergent, as soon as a taste of power occurs, the entity longs for more is revealed through the character of Eric. One instance of this is when he is taunting Four during the Abnegation raid. “The legendary 4, a mindless drone”. The close up shot of his baleful physiognomy emphasizes how Eric is exploiting the power of his role to gain more, by celebrating about his existing supremacy to Four. We also see a high angle shot of Eric dangling Christina off the bridge at Dauntless and a close up of her shaking and slipping hands and diegetic sound of her grunts and pleads. This shows Eric’s supremacy and how his impact in Dauntless is expanding due to the fact that he is establishing himself as controling through violence. Consequently, we see that in Animal Farm and Divergent, once a taste of power happens, the entity longs for more.

Finally, Orwell and Hamburger communicate that power is bound up in intellectual superiority and leaders emotionally control others. Corruption is quintessential to broadening power, and tactically manoeuvring the understanding of others is essential to produce a gateway for corruption to thrive and power to be broadened.

This type of corruption is perspicuously illustrated in Animal Farm, consisting of “The pigs all of a sudden moved into the farmhouse … the brains of the farm need to have a quiet place to operate in”. Through this personification, we discern that the pigs are utilizing their intellectual expertise to differentiate their requirements from the others and make themselves and their own convenience the concern of the farm. The other animals can not express any objections due to the fact that the pigs mentally contort them into thinking that their increasing needs are needed, instead of self-centered. Likewise, “All animals are equal, however some animals are more equivalent than others” successfully summarises the result of Animal Farm through irony. The animals are being told that they are equal, however the pigs have actually taken a distinct position for themselves. The ability of the pigs to manipulate the animals allows their corruption to work, and empowers them.

In Divergent, power being bound up in intellectual supremacy is most considerably denoted through the application of the serum on Dauntless. The overhead shot of the Dauntless marching into Abnegation portrays how they have become belittled and demeaned by the intellectually remarkable Erudite, who are literally controlling their minds because they created the serum. This requires them to comply with Jeanine’s strategy and inhibits introspection. Jeanine also states “… Fantastic isn’t it, whatever that makes up a person: ideas, emotions, history, all cleaned away by chemistry“. The sterility of the mise en scène and portentous tone of Jeanine’s voice emphasises how she is using Erudite’s superior knowledge of chemistry to mentally modify others, to utilize them to her personal advantage. Thus showing that power is bound up in intellectual superiority and leaders manipulate others psychologically. This allows them to use corrupt ways without blockage and gain more power. Therefore, both texts evince that all power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupt absolutely.

In conclusion, “all power tends to corrupt, and outright power corrupts definitely” is a crucial message of Animal Farm (George Orwell, 1954) and Divergent (Neil Hamburger, 2014). They both display this through showing that power has its foundation established in corruption and can not be attained without it. It likewise shows that when a taste of power takes place, the entity yearns for more, producing more corruption until they reach outright power which coincides with outright corruption and that power is bound up in intellectual supremacy, and corrupting through psychological manipulation enhances power.

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