English 2 Acc.
25 September 2012
“Anyway, no drug, not even alcohol, causes the fundamental ills of society. If we're looking for the source of our troubles, we shouldn't test people for drugs, we should test them for stupidity, ignorance, greed and love of power” P. J. O'Rourke. These are the unavoidable traits present in every creature, and are what destroy the developing utopian society described in George Orwell’s fantasy novella Animal Farm. Although it appears to be the perfect sanctuary for the once-enslaved talking animals, Animal Farm is a corrupt and impoverished place, where self-appointed rulers force the common animals to work incessantly. The farm, which was liberated from Mr. Jones, the irresponsible farmer, starts off as hugely profitable. Everyone works his fair share, and in return receives his fair share of food. However, the pigs, who “naturally” take responsibility as leaders, become very greedy and begin to work less and eat more. The common animals, which include horses, chickens, sheep, a donkey, a cat and other creatures, suffer from stupidity and ignorance, allowing the pigs to rise to complete power without any obstacles. There was no single creature that started the downfall of the utopia, but instead the stupidity, ignorance, and greed present in the animals.
The common animals, although seemingly innocent, are a large part of the collapse of Animal Farm. Their stupidity is the vehicle that is driven by the pigs to domination. The pigs would never have been seen as important had the animals been even somewhat intelligent. However, because of their stupidity, it is necessary for the pigs to take control. On the very first day of freedom, the pigs Napoleon and Snowball have already taken leadership. “The pigs did not actually work, but directed and supervised the others” (Orwell 27). This would never have happened if the other animals were intelligent. It wouldn’t be “natural that they [the pigs] should assume the leadership” (Orwell 27-28). Instead, there would have been a vote, and a mix of animals would assume leadership. Then, the farm would be balanced, and no single animal could be a dictator. But because the pigs have to become the leaders, which isn’t unreasonable at first, the path to domination is open to them. Thus, the second the pigs take control, the farm is doomed.
The pigs utilize the animals’ stupidity at first to more fluently run the farm. However, they eventually use it to give themselves more power, and leave the farm in ruin. In the early days of the farm, when things are still “fair” and everything is decided upon by a vote, the pigs realize just how easy it is to get what they wanted. This was because “The other animals understood how to vote, but could never think of any resolutions on their own” (Orwell 31). The animals could not think for themselves, and thus followed whatever path the pigs laid out for them without hesitation. Even in much simpler matters, such as reading, the animals falter. Because the majority cannot read, the seven commandments that make up “Animalism” are modified without them ever realizing. Their stupidity is what makes the collapse of animal farm possible.
The second thing that topples Animal Farm is ignorance. The animals, although stupid, have enough sense to realize that things aren’t as they should be. However, instead of investigating and doing something about it, they just allow things to happen. The pigs begin taking extra food, and they do nothing. Their work hours become longer, and they do nothing. Their friends are slaughtered, and they do nothing. The animals fall into a pattern of ignorance and “its easier just to follow along” that ends up hurting them more that saving them. Some of them, especially Benjamin, actually fully understand what is happening, and yet they put their heads down and work. If they had even tried to do something, the pigs may have backed