Animal Farm

I

Is it more important to have a strong ideology or a strong leader for revolution to occur? What tactics to leaders use to convince others of their ideologies?

Strong leaders and strong ideologies are both crucial elements of an effective revolution. Ultimately, revolutions begin because there’s a strong ideology that many people agree with; with a weak ideology, the revolution will never gain enough momentum to begin. On the other hand, without strong leaders who are willing to fight, ideas will stay unheard and the revolution will never start. A lack of either of these elements will be problematic and will likely result in a failed revolution. While lacking a strong leader, the new ideology will never be heard, and there will be no change. While lacking a strong ideology, the revolutionists will likely get attention but there will never be enough passion to make a change. If a weak ideology did manage to be implemented, it would likely be challenged and eradicated quickly.

To answer the question, it’s hard to say whether ideology or leadership is more crucial in a revolution. In George Orwell’s Animal Farm, the pigs began the revolution, and are unanimously recognized as the leaders on the farm. The animals were united by their common yearning for freedom, and the pigs pushed for their idea to be implemented. Old Major inspired the animals by telling them that if they “remove Man from the scene, [then] the root cause of hunger and overwork is abolished forever” (p 2). After their freedom was granted, the resources were spread equitably throughout the animals. However, as time goes on, the pigs begin to manipulate the other animals by reminding them that they are responsible for the farm’s freedom, and that “if [the] pigs failed in [their] duty […] Jones would come back” (p 11). The rest of the farm is grateful for the pigs’ leadership, blind towards the inequalities they’re experiencing. Although the pigs began the revolution, they’re beginning to lose sight of the initial ideology the animals all shared; the pigs’ leadership is beginning to stray from the basis of Animalism. In this case, the leadership from the pigs was enough to get the ideas implemented, but eventually cause the initial ideology to be lost. The power imbalance between animals and humans simply shift to an imbalance between pigs and other animals.

II

To what extent to power and privilege, or lack thereof, affect the beliefs and actions of individuals in a revolution?

In George Orwell’s Animal Farm, many of the animals’ willingness to cooperate in the revolution was heavily influenced by the way that the humans treat them. For example, Mollie the horse is very reluctant to join the revolution since the humans treat her with a respect that the other animals don’t get. Clover even claims that “[he] saw […][One of Mr. Pilkington’s men][…] talking to [Mollie] and [she was] allowing him to stroke [her] nose” (p 14). Mollie is never very enthusiastic about the revolution, and she shows more and more signs of disloyalty until she eventually defects. Although she may not notice, the things that she takes for granted are rights that the other animals on the farm don’t have. Snowball tries to reason with her by explaining that “[the] ribbons that [she is] so devoted to are the badge of slavery”; he asks if “[Mollie can] not understand that liberty is worth more than ribbons?” and “Mollie [agrees], but she [does] not sound very convinced” (p 6). After the revolution, she misses the prime treatment that she once had, so she is the first to defect back to the humans when “the pigeons [report] that they had seen her on the other side of Willingdon […] standing outside a public−house […] [with a] man […] stroking her nose and feeding her with sugar” (p 14). Although the other animals have a better life after the revolution, she never noticed, because she was too focused on her own treatment and the respect she used to have.

III

In your opinion, was the revolution successful? Were any other available to bring the animals’ desired change? If so, what might have been done? If so, what might have been done? If not, why was the revolution inevitable?

In George Orwell’s Animal Farm, the animals’ revolution was successful in obtaining the freedom the animals unanimously desired. However, it’s evident that the initial foundation of their ideology was lost gradually over time, until the farm found itself in the same unjust environment as before— this time with pigs as tyrants. Although the pigs are seen abusing their power throughout the plot, it isn’t until the end of the novella, during the pigs’ card game with the humans, that the pigs truly become equal with humans. The animals witnessing this find that “[looking] from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; […] it was impossible to say which was which” (p 42). This doesn’t necessarily suggest that the pigs are becoming physically humanoid, but rather signifies that the other animals have found themselves in the same situation as before the initial revolution. This slow descent back into oppression transpired throughout the story and is subtly revealed multiple times. For example, the animals have a small disagreement about several pails of milk. All of the animals want some, but the pigs tell them to “never mind the milk, […] that will be attended to” (p 9). However, “when [the animals come] back in the evening it [is] noticed that the milk [has] disappeared”, leading us to believe that the pigs used the milk for their own enjoyment (ibid.). This is the first of many signs that the pigs are beginning to abuse their power.

Despite these multiple abuses of power, it’s clear that the revolution was initially successful. There was a time when the animals lived virtually equal. Before the initial revolution, Old Major told the farm that “[he does] not know when that Rebellion will come, it might be in a week or in a hundred years, but [he knows][…] that sooner or later justice will be done” (p 3). This could apply to life after the revolution as well, when the farm is tired of being exploited by the pigs. Old Major may be suggesting that the oppressed will always stand up against the oppressors. It may take eons to occur, but there will always be a power shift once the abused are ready to stand up to their abusers. True freedom can never be achieved with unchanging leadership; leaders will always begin to abuse their power. Revolutions are inevitable, and when the revolutionists come into power, they will inevitably be overthrown again. Perhaps Old Major was not simply telling the farm to stand up to the humans, but to stand up to anyone who is mistreating them.

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