Social privilege and battles for equality are commonly discussed topics by twentieth century writers, who tried to denounce the popular uneasiness through their books. Animal Farm is an allegorical novella by George Orwell, first published in England on 17 August 1945. The fable reflects events leading up to the Russian Revolution of 1917 and then on into the Stalinist era of the Soviet Union. An Inspector Calls is a morality play written by English dramatist J. B. Priestley published in 1945. Priestley’s play revolves around a central mystery, the death of a young woman, but whereas a traditional detective story involves the narrowing down of suspects from several to one, An Inspector Calls inverts this process as, one by one, nearly all the characters in the play are found to be guilty. In this way, Priestley makes his larger point that society is guilty of neglecting and abusing its most vulnerable members. A just society, he states through his mysterious Inspector, is one that respects and exercises social responsibility. In the book Animal Farm, George Orwell uses Napoleon to explore the ways in which those in power often abuse of their social and political positions to gain and maintain social and political control and the privileges derived from his power. On the other hand, in the play An Inspector Calls by J.B. Priestley, the theme of power abuse and its privileges are developed during the story with the different members of the Birling family. Revolution is portrayed in the first story using the character of the Old Major and all the animals of the farm against Mr. Jones. Eva Smith is the icon of the insurrection in Priestley’s play, fighting against the capitalist system to obtain better working conditions and wages.
One of the main topics explored in both the stories is the abuse of power. Abuse of power is the misuse of power by someone in a position of authority who can use the leverage they have to oppress persons in an inferior position or to induce them to commit a wrongful act. For example, Orwell presents this theme for his audience through narration when it says, “Four young porkers in the front row uttered shrill squeals of disapproval, and all four of them sprang to their feet and began speaking at once. But suddenly the dogs sitting round Napoleon let out deep, menacing growls and then the pigs fell silent and sat down again.” Napoleon uses his nine loyal attack dogs, that he personally took away from their mom when they were just puppets and raised as his personal police, to intimidate and subdue the other animals to his intentions. Similarly, in An Inspector Calls, Priestley uses dialogue between the Inspector and Mrs Birling to demonstrate her abuse of power and in turn, that of the ruling class, when the audience hears them state: Inspector: was it owing to your influence, as the most prominent member of the committee, that help was refused to the girl? Mrs Birling: (stung) Yes, it was. I didn’t like her manner. The dialogue between the Inspector and Mrs Birling displays how easy it is to get what wishes with power and wealth. Eva was on the edge and had nowhere to go, no one to stick by her side and help her out. This is when she chose to go to Mrs Birling and her charity. Eva used the name of Mrs Birling because of Eric Birling getting her pregnant, but the real Mrs Birling had no idea of the son’s action and refused from then on to help her. Eva tried to explain how her husband had gone but Mrs Birling was not sympathetic and thought that using her family name was disrespectful. Mrs Birling used her power to influence the coordinators of the charity, convincing them to not give any economical support to Eva. In the first example, the use of the dogs alludes to the Secret Police instituted and by Joseph Stalin during his dictatorship. An Inspector Call is the metaphor of Capitalism: the Birling family is the emblem of the bourgeoisie during the years previous WW1, willing and capable of doing anything to maintain and clean their way up to the top of the society.
Power and wealth drag with them infinite privilege for those who own them. A privilege is a special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group.Napoleon, after the affirmation of his political role in Animal Farm’s society, is the privileged individual. Or instance, in Animal Farm is said : “In these days Napoleon rarely appeared in public but spent all his time in the farmhouse, which was guarded at each door by fierce-looking dogs. When he did emerge, it was in a ceremonial manner, with an escort of six dogs who closely surrounded him and growled if anyone came too near. Frequently he did not even appear on Sunday mornings but issued his orders through one of the other pigs, usually Squealer.” The quote aboves shows how, once obtained the absolute power, Napoleon grants himself the right not to participate in the activities and works that he created and organised by locking himself in Mr. Jones protected by his dogs while the rest of the animals are forced to labour building the windmill. On the other hand, in An Inspector Calls the ruling class’ privilege is explored in a slightly different way. An example is Br. Birling saying: “You’ll hear some people say that war is inevitable. And to that I say – fiddlesticks! The Germans don’t want war. Nobody wants war.’” With these lines, Mr Birling assures his family that war is not going to happen, trying to preserve the nice and cheerful atmosphere of the night. Priestley uses Mr Birling to discredit the capitalists, by linking their stupidity to the cause of The Depression in the 1930s, and to the two world wars of 1914 – 1918, and 1939 – 1945. Consequently, he speaks “as a hard-headed business man” to portray they selfishness of businessmen, but also to echo their greed in profiting from the war. He discredits Birling, and therefore the ruling class, through his confidence that certain events won’t happen. Mr Birling knows that war will make him even more rich and moreover he’s conscious of the fact that he and all his family and friends (metaphor of the rich ruling class), because of their economic status, will never hold a bayonet in their hands .As such, Orwell and Priestley demonstrate that the upper class holds with power,many privileges such as protection from war and from responsibilities.
As the power and advantages of the Aristocracy grow, the working class will feel more and more oppressed until all the discontent explodes with violent revolts. The theme of revolution in one of the keys that joins the two literary works. In Animal Farm the theme of revolution is explored first through the old major saying; “Man is the only real enemy we have. Remove Man from the scene, and the root cause of hunger and overwork is abolished forever.” Before his peaceful dead, the Old Major Pig remind his comrades about how human is the only real enemy, encouraging them to start a revolution even if he won’t be able to help, guide and support them. As example of revolution, in An Inspector Calls the audience can read : “Birling: Yes. The girl had been causing trouble in the works. I was quite justified.” When asked to explain why he fired Eva Smith from her job in his factory, Mr. Birling defends himself telling the inspector that his action are justified because the young woman caused trouble. Later will be known that Eva was the organizer of a revolt of employers in the manufactory, with the aim of asking a higher salary. In the novel Animal Farm, Mr. Jones (humans) is modeled on Tsar Nicholas II, the last Russian emperor. During his reign, the Russian people experienced terrible poverty. As the animals under Jones lead lives of hunger and want, the lives of millions of Russians worsened during Nicholas’ reign. When his own generals withdrew their support of him, Nicholas abdicated his throne in the hopes of avoiding an all-out civil war — but the civil war arrived in the form of the Bolshevik Revolution, when Nicholas, like Jones, was removed from his place of rule and then died shortly thereafter. Old Major is the animal version of Lenin , the leader of the Bolshevik Party that seized control in the 1917 Revolution. As old Major outlines the principles of Animalism, a theory holding that all animals are equal and must revolt against their oppressors, Lenin was inspired by Karl Marx’s theory of Communism, which urges the ‘workers of the world’ to unite against their economic oppressors. As Animalism imagines a world where all animals share in the prosperity of the farm, Communism argues that a ‘communal’ way of life will allow all people to live lives of economic equality. In terms of An Inspector Calls, the rebellion of Eva symbolises the revolt of million people against their bosses, asking for better work conditions and higher pays. This event actually happened in the England pre-war and sadly still happens nowadays. Everything is caused by the capitalist’s power, people that own industries and companies that aim to earn as much as possible, completely forgetting about their workers prerogatives. Both the texts provide examples of revolution that, even if allocated in two different period of time, reconjunct to the idea of moving from oppression of the upper class.
The novels demonstrated that if one is ignorant and/ or struggling economically it can undeniably be taken advantage of and be used against. George Orwell showed that the idea of equality is most definitely harder to achieve than it is to dream of and that it was certainly unsuccessful throughout Animal Farm as the leaders were not clear-minded from the result of power. Priestly is ashamed of society and is intent on changing the minds and views of a new generation using dramatic devices. He exposes the capitalist system, guardian of the idea that poverty is only a great issue if everyone is poor. Priestley hoped that people in his society would become less self-centered, and become more involved in helping others. As a result of the analysis above is safe to state that both the works are warning written for people to remind them that human is the one supposed to control power and money, not the opposite.