Critical Lens Essay: Animal Farm by George Orwell and Night by Elie Wiesel
Lord Action, a British historian once said, “Power tends to corrupt; absolute corrupts absolutely.” This could be interpreted as: Power destroys, but absolute power annihilates. This quote and interpretation are best proved through Night by Elie Wiesel and Animal Farm by George Orwell.
This is proved through the four literary terms: symbolism, characterization, setting and conflict. Symbolism and Action’s quote are linked using Animal Farm. There are many symbols that resemble power at its core. In Animal Farm, Mr. Jones is consumed by alcohol, which symbolizes a corrupt government.
After he was corrupted, the animals had a revolution and took control of Manor Farm; and now since they rule, Animal Farm. Since Animal Farm satirizes the Russian Revolution, sugar cubes and ribbons are correlated with the luxuries of of the upper class. Mr. Jones usually used these on Mollie, the carriage horse because she was the one who went in public to represent the animals. When the animals took over, Mollie went to the humans.
They called to her with the sugar cubes and ribbons. These old luxuries were controlling her willpower. Characterization is quite an excellent device. All of the animals have their own traits that determine who they are and where they stand in the caste system of social status. Napoleon is the dictator of the farm. He will do anything if his power is jeopardized.
He represents Joseph Stalin; ruthless, mean and above all, powerful. Napoleon once killed many animals all at once because they confessed (by force) to crimes they didn’t do. They did this because Napoleon is so powerful he strikes fear into the hearts of everyone. Boxer is characterized as a loyal and hardworking horse who doesn’t question Napoleon at all. Boxer is old, but when they needed to build the windmill, he went by his motto, “I will work harder!” Rain, sleet, or snow, Boxer always worked to his maximum and tried a little harder each time.
His other motto, “Napoleon is always right!” showed how blinded he was. He was tricked, like the communists did to the Russian people. When Napoleon kept changing the original commandments, to benefit himself, Boxer noticed but never though anything of it. Napoleon’s power had completely shadowed his mind and beliefs. In Night, setting is an important factor. It was set in Elie’s hometown, where everyone was content.
Even when the military came, they were only worried, nothing more. In the train on the way to concentration camps, everyone was very scared and didn’t know what to do. At the final setting, the concentration camps, everybody was powerless. They had to listen to the guards, eat bum food and live a life of misery and utter fear. Elie and his father didn’t know what to do. They were terrified.
All of the surroundings of the camps, especially in Auschwitz, made death deem like being reborn. No one loved life. The absolute power exercised by the Nazis destroyed all reason for living. Conflict is another big thing in night. The everyday struggle between life and death was very painful for many people. Poor Elie’s father was sick with dysentery for days, on the verge of dying.
The biggest conflict was between the Nazis and the Jewish people. The Nazis “branded” the Jewish with yellow stars of David. Some of the Jews fought or refused and were shot immediately; however, Elie knew better. It almost seemed as if no one knew that the sun shines after the rain, but he did. All of this power, all of Hitler’s absolute power, really makes everyone cringe at the very story. Power ruins and absolute power is basically the Devil gone wild.
Power may seem bad, but complete power in one person can effect the very balance of the world. No one is safe from it, but can do their best to deflect it. If not guarded with a righteous heart, power will corrupt anything and anyone. Never take it for granted as it is very temperamental and can do damage in the blink of an eye.