Comparison of Themes of Authority and Dishonesty: Animal Farm by George Orwell, and V for Vendetta by James Mcteigue

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The obtaining of power and its leading to corruption is able to be represented in George Orwell’s allegorical novel “Animal Farm” and James McTeigue’s dystopian film “V for Vendetta”. While the obtaining of power may bring corruption, a benevolent leadership does not necessarily mean power will become corrupt. Both composers explore the major flaws of human nature and that people’s desire to obtain power can lead to the diminishing of morals and principles. Wielding power requires us to acknowledge our human flaws, those who are not able to do so, become corrupt. Those who are in power become corrupt and ruthless and will go to certain lengths to remain in power.

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Orwell is able to identify that the obtaining of power and its corruption, can lead to the diminishing of morals and principles. Squealer’s tone of superiority with his manipulative in “many of us actually dislike milk and apples” and “taking it to preserve our health” (this is the answer that the pigs have given to cover the fact that the milk and apples are not seen by the other animals and only the pigs are consuming them) show inequality and contradict the Old Major’s original idea for animalism. Lying and manipulating others goes against our morals and principles and although the animals used to live in unity, the corruption of power has caused them break ethics for their own beneficial reasons. The morals and principles that have formed are opposed by the constant desire for more power and control. Orwell is able to accurately portray the dirty, greedy and obnoxious side of human nature through the symbolic use of pigs. Similarly, the destruction of beliefs is also able to be seen in “V for Vendetta” where powerful characters, break their morals and principles to attempt to achieve their own personal goals.

McTeigue focuses the attention of the audience to the flaws of humanity, our desire for power can cause it to become corrupt and lead us to dismiss our morals and principles. McTeigue questions the morality of society as a whole through the characters as they struggle to gain power through many immoral methods. The director alludes to World War Two with the anecdotal evidence of the spreading of the St. Mary’s virus is one of the most distasteful examples of corruption with the obtaining of power. The government’s decision to exploit the vulnerabilities of the citizens through fear shows their pathetic and cruel nature and their willingness to dismiss their own personal morals and principles. Although government is leading malevolently, V’s breaking of morals and principles to achieve the freedom of the citizens is beneficial. His murders lead to a unified country, showing that power does not always have to become corrupt. McTeigue and Orwell clearly show that the obtaining of power, causes many to become corrupt and reject their morals.

When wielding power, the holder of power may become corrupt if their flaws are not acknowledged. The use of visual imagery in “Nine enormous dogs came bounding into the barn. They chased Snowball” allows the readers to visualise how the corruption has affected the power of the pigs. Snowball’s and Napoleon’s natural disagreements were not acknowledged by either of them and causes Napoleon to resort to violence to gain more control and power. Orwell’s makes the audience question their own flaws and if it corrupts the power in their own relationships. This acknowledging of flaws in also seen in “V for Vendetta”.

McTeigue similarly questions the flaws of humanity and how by not acknowledging them, the person in power will become corrupted. The corruption of Norsefire is frequently exposed throughout the film by V, but their decision to cover up this flaw through the media continues to show their decline further into corruption. The destruction of the Old Bailey, meant that justice was no longer existent and chaos would ensue as the Old Bailey symbolised justice. Acknowledging the flaws of human nature can lead to a more benevolent leadership instead of a malevolent leadership.

Works cited

  1. Orwell, G. (1945). Animal Farm. Secker & Warburg.
  2. McTeigue, J. (Director). (2006). V for Vendetta [Motion picture]. Warner Bros.
  3. Buzan, T. (2019). Power, Corruption, and Perversions: How to Survive and Win in the Game of Life. Pearson.
  4. Brown, S., & Mawani, R. (Eds.). (2012). The Violence of Neoliberalism: State, Elite, and Economic Violence in Contemporary Globalization. Routledge.
  5. Dubois, E., & Gadde, L. E. (2020). Corruption in International Business. Edward Elgar Publishing.
  6. Sheth, J. N., & Sharma, A. (2017). Surviving Disruption: Leadership Principles and Strategies. Routledge.
  7. Greenleaf, R. K. (1977). Servant leadership: A journey into the nature of legitimate power and greatness. Paulist Press.
  8. Keltner, D. (2016). The Power Paradox: How We Gain and Lose Influence. Penguin.
  9. Machiavelli, N. (1532). The Prince. Retrieved from
  10. Gaventa, J. (1980). Power and Powerlessness: Quiescence and Rebellion in an Appalachian Valley. University of Illinois Press.

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