Sample Analytical Paper Topics
The following paper topics are designed to test your understanding of the novel as a whole and to analyze important themes and literary devices. Following each question is a sample outline to help get you started.
“Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” This statement by Lord Acton, sent in a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton on April 5, 1887, provides the basis for understanding the effects of power on the heads of state, and it furnishes insight into one of the main themes in the novel Animal Farm. Write a paper that shows how power affects the characters, the events and the outcome of the book.
I. Thesis Statement: Animal Farm is a historical novel, set in England but dealing with the events leading up to and after the Russian Revolution of 1917. It illustrates the idea expressed by Lord Acton that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. This abuse of power can be demonstrated by studying Napoleon’s actions in the book.
II. Power on Animal Farm before the Rebellion
A. Man has absolute power, taking without producing
B. Jones operates the Manor Farm with no regard for his animals
1. Animals aren’t fed
2. Animals are slaughtered
3. No animal lives its life to a natural end
4. Animal families are broken up by the sale of the young
A. Old Major holds the key to power: eliminate man
B. The pigs are the leaders even before the Rebellion
1. They are more clever than the others
2. They are assertive, sitting in the front at the meeting
3. They teach themselves to read
4. They are the organizers forming various animal committees.
IV. The Rebellion
A. Elimination of man creates a “power vacuum”
B. Napoleon, Snowball and Squealer become the new leaders that fill the vacuum
C. Pigs get special privileges—milk and apples
V. The Harvest
A. Pigs are the supervisors
B. They make the work schedules
C. They move into the harness room
D. Special privileges for the pigs are said to be necessary to keep Jones away
VI. The Windmill
A. Napoleon and Snowball vie for control of the farm
B. Napoleon eliminates the competition
1. He uses the dogs to expel Snowball
2. Squealer discredits Snowball
C. Napoleon assumes the power to run Animal Farm
VII. Changes on Animal Farm
A. Trade with the humans
1. The arrival of Mr. Whymper
2. The sale of a stack of hay
3. The sale of part of the wheat...
(The entire section is 1097 words.)
“Animal Farm” by George Orwell – Analytical EssayGet Your
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“Animal Farm” Analytical Essay ‘Animal Farm’ by George Orwell is a very interesting allegory about the Russian revolution which took place in 1917. In the beginning of the novel, the animals are ruled by their farmer Mr. Jones, a tyrant who neglected and overworked them. After the animal’s successful rebellion, their thoughts become so clouded with fantasies and dreams, and they are manipulated by the pigs to such an extent that they forget about the days when they were ruled by Mr.
Jones, and they don’t see the reality of what is happening to their “equal society”. The reality was that the pigs “with their superior knowledge” took advantage of the other animals, and instead of establishing an egalitarian society, they replaced the tyranny of man with an even worse form of oppression and exploitation. Orwell clearly shows that: “power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”. On Manor Farm, “the life of an animal is misery and slavery” because of the poor conditions which Mr. Jones provides the animals to live in.
Every animal is born to a life of labour, little food, and when they are no longer of use to their farmer, they will eventually be slaughtered with the utmost cruelty: “No animal escapes the cruel knife in the end”. They are forced to work long hours every day, only to have their produce taken from them by Mr. Jones, and to be given “the bare minimum” in return for their labour. Most of the animals just saw it as their way of life, but Old Major, the oldest and wisest animal on the farm, was able to see the need for change in their lifestyle.
He realized that “man is the only real enemy” that the animals had and that “all the habits of man are evil”, so he knew that for the animals to live well and free, they would have to “toil for freedom’s sake” and overthrow “Jones’s hated reign”. When the animals heard of the proposed revolution when “tyrant man shall be o’erthrown”, they started telling stories about the rebellion and “the golden future time” in which all of the animals would possess “riches more than mind can picture”.
They dreamed of a world where every animal would be treated equally, and they would all be free to do whatever they wanted without having to fear for their own safety. The animals heads were soon filled with thoughts of “more for everyone to eat”, a small amount of work, lights and heaters in every stall to help them through the winter, and other wonderful fantasies. Old Major taught the animals a song called ‘Beasts of England’ which described their dreams of what life would be like after the revolution, and gave the animals a sense of hope and pride in themselves whenever they sang it.
It became sort of a tradition for the animals to sing it together, so that they felt united and would hopefully never forget the true purpose of the rebellion. One day, Mr. Jones went for a drink at the Red Lion “without bothering to feed the animals”. They were left starving throughout the night and finally decided that they’d had enough of being neglected: “At last they could stand it no longer”, so they smashed the door of the store shed down to access all the food inside. When Mr. Jones and his men tried to chase them out with their whips, all of the animals simultaneously attacked them and chased him out of the farm. Before they knew what was happening, the rebellion had been carried through”. They had suddenly achieved their goal to live in a world where “cruel whips no more shall crack”, a world without the tyranny of man. To celebrate their victory, the animals made sure they “destroyed everything that reminded them of Mr. Jones”. After the rebellion was carried out, the animal’s first impressions of a life without man met almost all of their expectations and more. The animals were able to help themselves to double rations of food from the store shed, which showed them that there was “food in abundance” without Mr.
Jones running the farm, and they took some time to relax for once. “Every animal down to the humblest, worked at turning the hay and gathering it”, even the smaller animals like the ducks and hens chipped in by doing whatever they could to help. The pigs implemented the idea to run the farm on a communistic basis where all animals would be equal and each animal would work to their own capacity, and the Manor Farm was replaced with “the name Animal Farm”. Everything had turned out so perfectly, and it seemed that the animals would live in peace for the rest of their lives.
Unfortunately, this idea of a utopian society quickly faded when the animals fell under a dictatorship of pigs, who were the most intelligent and idle of all the animals on the farm. The pigs knew that when they took power of the farm, they were going against the seventh commandment of Animalism: “All animals are equal”, but they also knew that “with their superior knowledge, it was natural that they should assume the leadership”, and the most cunning of all the pigs called Napoleon, abused this fact to manipulate the animals and gain absolute power over all of them.
The first signs of Napoleon’s opportunism, could be seen when he discovered the orphan puppies in the farmhouse, and hid them away so that he could “make himself responsible for their education”, and raise them in secret. Napoleon was smart enough to constantly think ahead, and in this case with the dogs, he predicted that he would need a way to enforce his power once he gained it, so he planned to use them as bodyguards when they were older and more obedient.
Napoleon continued to plan his means of obtaining power, and he took a pig named Squealer by his side who was a brilliant speaker and was said to be able to “turn black into white”, to aid him in the manipulation of the animals and to clear up any suspicions or protests that they had. These actions may have seemed insignificant at the time, but Napoleon was in fact taking the smaller steps which finally would lead to much larger things.
With the aim of turning the animal’s dreams into reality, Snowball, one of the more creative and intelligent pigs, drew the “plans for a windmill” which was to be built to run electricity which “would light the stalls and warm them in the winter”, and possibly to run machines “which would do the animal’s work for them while they grazed at ease in the fields”. At first Napoleon opposed this idea, as he felt that too much time would be used to build the windmill, when they should really “increase food production” to prevent starvation.
These arguments went for on for some time, and eventually the animals agreed to have an election, the candidates being Napoleon and Snowball, as to who the leader of the farm would be. When Snowball had the animals hanging onto his every word, and “there was no doubt as to which way the vote would go”, Napoleon was forced to resort to his backup plan, which was to set his “huge dogs” which were “as fierce-looking as wolves” on Snowball to kill him in order to ensure his leadership and power over the animals. To show the true level of dominance hat he had over the others, he ordered his dogs to slaughter every animal on the spot who confessed to committing harmful acts aimed to sabotage the rebellion and the farm. Napoleon did this to guarantee that he had eliminated any competition, and to reduce the chance of any animals gathering enough courage to oppose him. To the animal’s surprise, Napoleon suddenly changed his mind and decided to build the windmill, because it was supposedly “his own creation” in the first place, but Snowball had stolen the plans “from among Napoleon’s papers” and claimed them as his own.
Squealer explained that Napoleon had simply pretended to oppose the idea, “as a manoeuvre to get rid of Snowball”, but in reality Napoleons actions had a much more important purpose – to ensure that he got praised for the results of the windmill and would be seen as a hero amongst the animals, and to distract the animals from Napoleon’s manipulation and true intentions, by making them work extremely hard on the windmill so that it would be their main focus.
From then on, Napoleon used Snowball as a scapegoat to cover up all the mistakes which the pigs made, or to explain any misfortune which occurred on the farm, as he convinced the animals that Snowball had managed to escape the jaws of the ferocious dogs. This helped Napoleon a lot, because whenever something bad happened, the animals were extremely determined to work harder so as to show the “traitorous” Snowball that they couldn’t be defeated so easily.
Most of the animals were to stupid and naive to think for themselves or voice their own opinions, but if anyone did protest or express their suspicions about anything, Squealer always “spoke so persuasively” to make them believe whatever Napoleon wanted them to, and Napoleon’s fierce dogs “growled so threateningly, that the animals accepted his explanation without any further questions”.
Some of the more educated animals were troubled by Napoleon’s actions, and even though they were able to think of the right arguments against him, they were kept in line by his personal army, which he had successfully developed to keep the class system in effect and to enforce the laws which he created to benefit the pigs. But with all the power that Napoleon had gained, he still wanted more, and he started to abuse this ower to such an extent that he began to tyrannize and exploit the animals even more than Mr. Jones had before the revolution. Old Major had once stated that “man is the only creature that consumes without producing”, so “only get rid of man, and the produce of our labour would be our own”. But the pigs started to force the animals to work hard, and then did what Mr. Jones had once done by taking most of what the animals worked for, to use for their own benefit.
It turned out that the animals still weren’t working “for themselves”, and they actually had to do harder labour than they did prior to the revolution. Part of Napoleon’s well thought out propaganda machine, was to convince the animals that there was less of a workload on the farm: “they worked shorter hours”, and that there was a dramatic increase in food production and distribution, even though “food was even shorter”, and “all rations were reduced except those of the pigs and the dogs”.
Since “the days of Jones… had almost faded out of their memories”, the animals had “nothing with which they could compare their present lives with”, and were forced to believe all the stories that the pigs were carving into their brains, like “Squealer’s lists of figures”, and as a result they were unable to see what was happening to their once respected laws of Animalism.
There are many signs which indicate that the pigs are becoming more and more like humans, which can be seen through their behaviour and actions, especially that of “Comrade Napoleon”, who constantly defied and altered the regulations of the initial rebellion and Animalism. Squealer was ordered to rewrite the laws of Animalism to suit the needs and wants of the pigs, which allowed them to do as they pleased without having to worry about the other animals protesting or finding the pigs guilty of acting against Old Major’s initial dreams of rebellion.
The pigs were led into the farmhouse to live in the luxury that Mr. Jones once had, by Napoleon, who went a step further by ordering his dinner from the “Crown Derby dinner service”, which was much better quality than the average oats and hay which the other animals were given, and drinking “a pint of beer daily”. After this, “it did not seem strange” to the animals, when the pigs were seen wearing Mr. Jones’s clothes which they found in the farmhouse and walking on their hind legs after much practice.
The world which the animals had once dreamt of, in which “cruel whips no more shall crack”, was lost forever when the pigs who supervised work on the farm “all carried whips in their trotters”. Despite all of this, the animal’s pride in being the only animals in England to run their own farm and their fear of Mr. Jones returning to power, plus the effects of Napoleon’s powerful and effective propaganda machine, led them to believe in the illusion of freedom which the pigs had conjured in order to keep the animals obedient and faithful, while they manipulated and used them to their advantage.
Eventually it came to a point where the pigs felt that they were as equal, or even superior to the humans, and they were confident enough to invite a few of the “neighbouring farmers… to make a tour of inspection” on the farm. After fighting so hard during the revolution to rid the farm of man, they had gladly welcomed the ones, who were once considered as “their only enemy”, back onto the farm as friends.
The animals were never able to succeed in their attempt to create a world in which all animals were equal, and “it seemed as though the farm had grown richer without making the animals themselves any richer – except, of course, for the pigs and the dogs”. This is pretty much summed up in the statement which the pigs changed the Seven Commandments of Animalism to: “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others”. The pig’s opportunism and greed for power, eventually transformed them into everything that the rebellion had once fought to get rid of, as they adopt the vices of man.
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The irony in the words among the animals’ song of rebellion “Beasts of England’, is obvious as they stated that “Tyrant man will be o’erthrown”, but in the end the pigs represented a worse form of man who exploited the animals and brought greater oppression on them than there was during “Jones’s hated reign”. Orwell’s key message in the novel, is that there can never be a world in which everyone is truly equal, due to the corruption of power. There is a famous saying: “With great power, comes great responsibility”, but the temptation to abuse this power is what causes one – in this case, the pigs – to become selfish and corrupt.
Author: Brandon Johnson
“Animal Farm” by George Orwell – Analytical Essay
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