to popular belief, there are seven deadly sins – pride, envy, gluttony, wrath,
lust, sloth, and greed. Since the advent of Christianity, these sins have been
attributed to many of the evils in the world. Could some of these sins possibly
lead to the downfall of a revolution? Certainly, as is evidenced in the twisted
society of Animal Farm. With the aid of Boxer and the sheep’s
fanaticism, Napoleon’s greed and Mollie’s pride collectively led to the
destruction of the Animal Farm.
defines greed as “a selfish and
excessive desire for more of something than is needed”. It is not difficult
for readers to see how Napoleon is the natural embodiment of this in the novel.
Napoleon expresses a constant thirst for more.
More privileges, despite the fact that the idea of Animalism revolves
around the equal distribution of power and wealth between society members. Shortly
after the death of Old Major, Napoleon assumed a leadership role. After acquiring
this role, he decided that his fellow pigs shall receive the star harvests of
the farm: apples and milk. Following this infraction of Animalism, several
sacred commandments were warped to serve the pigs and Napoleon. They began to
sleep in beds, entered contracts with the formerly reviled humans, drank alcohol,
and most notoriously, slaughtered other animals. Subsequently, Napoleon
insisted on more titles. Comrade Napoleon was changed to Our Leader, in
addition to many other flowery appellations. He even went so far as to take
away another animal’s hard won title of Animal Hero, First Class and awarded it
to himself, without having lifted a finger in defense of the farm. Napoleon’s
greed did not bode well for the future of Animal Farm. As mentioned above,
Animalism is a system of thought that is based off of the idea that everyone is
equal and therefore deserves an equal share of the wealth generated by the
society in question. Greed cannot thrive in this sort of system, and has one of
two choices: corrupt the leaders of the society or perish. In this case, greed
chose the path of survival and corrupted Napoleon, which led to the eventual
downfall of a hopeful revolution.
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what one wants and achieving that goal is a quality that is greatly admired.
When one’s wants obscure the needs of others and collapse a burgeoning revolution
that is in pursuit of creating a better society…well, that quality is not
admired so much as abhorred. Mollie the horse is a perfect example of this.
Mollie had a great deal of personal pride. In chapter three of Animal Farm, the
animals were tasked with learning the alphabet in order for there to be equal
participation in the running of the farm and the completion of any accompanying
paperwork. Many of the animals did not have the intellectual capacity to
progress past the first two or three letters of the alphabet. Mollie did not
suffer from this, yet “…refused to learn
any but the five letters which spelt her own name.”(21) as she felt these
were the only letters that were worth any use in the alphabet. This is a mere
offence when compared to Mollie’s insistence that she be given sugar and
ribbons. The Seven Commandments clearly stated that human adornments and luxuries
were to be abstained from. The Animal Farm was also a new republic. Thus, it
could not provide these luxuries and would need to engage in trade. Trade was
considered treason as it involved humans. When one lets their pride get the best
of them, they start to believe that they are inherently better than those
around them. Mollie let her pride consume her and also began to believe that
the system of equality in place did not cater to her “superior” needs. An
individual that holds this belief may go to great lengths in order to satisfy
their “superior” needs. Mollie resorts to treason to get what she believes she
deserves. Eventually, Mollie’s betrayal was circulated amongst the farm animals
and she ran away to join the humans, becoming the farm’s first deserter. Mollie’s
desertion was one of many straws that rested on the back of the Animal Farm. It
may not have been the last, but it was undeniably one of the first straws that
eventually broke the back of the Animal Farm and sent it crashing to the
vices embodied by Mollie and Napoleon could not have led to the destruction of
Animal Farm without the aid of Boxer and the sheep’s fanaticism. In order for
any society to have some degree of success, members of that society must be
educated and cautious in believing the words of their leaders. In this way, the
masses can detect any attempts the leader may make in descending the society
into ruin. Boxer and the sheep, two animals that held great influence over
their fellow comrades, failed spectacularly in these two requirements. Boxer
was not an educated animal- in fact, it is said in the novel that “…he could not get beyond the letter D.”
(21). Similarly, the sheep were equally obtuse, and at first, delighted in
reciting the one maxim they could remember- four legs good, two legs bad. Boxer and the sheep’s lack of
education meant that they were unable to contribute ideas to help better the
farm and nip Napoleon’s reign of terror in the bud. Each animal was a vessel
for Napoleon’s lies, and thus expressed their wholehearted agreement with
Napoleon’s fabrications throughout Animal Farm. In several of the
earlier chapters of Animal Farm, the sheep chanted their harmless maxim.
When Napoleon’s whims decreed this unacceptable, the chant changed to “four
legs good, two legs better”-essentially
rejecting the very first commandment, “What goes up on two legs is an enemy”.
An even worse incident occurs in Chapter Seven, when Napoleon executes a large
portion of the farm’s population. Boxer blames the animals and himself for not working hard enough, rather than
connecting the bloodshed to his ruthless leader. With allowances such as these,
it is no wonder that the ideals of the Animal Farm were shattered so easily.
the famous Greek philosopher once said, “The
whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” With a leader consumed by greed, an arrogant
and prideful deserter, and unquestioning devotees…with these parts, is there
really a possibility for societal greatness? Look no further than the
conclusion of Animal Farm for your answer. When a society does not tend
to its parts and rather looks at its whole in anticipation of good, it may just
receive the opposite. A whole in which all animals are said to be equal, but
some are more equal than others.