How can I write an essay discussing how ignorance and the abuse of power causes the failure of Animal Farm's resolution?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

George Orwell's superb allegory certainly characterizes those who are uninformed and ideological and mere followers against those who are exigent and selfishly ambitious--always a combination for failure of equitable rule.

Therefore, in analyzing the representative roles that the various animals play in Animal Farm the student can demonstrate how they contribute to the failure of Old Major's dream. For, the equal distribution of wealth is unattainable because of the corrupting forces of power and the very nature of man, Orwell seems to be saying. In a New York Times Book Review about Orwell's fellow Brit, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who fought Britain's socialist Labour Party, Stephen Pollard records Thatcher's words,

...Thatcher's crusade against socialism was not merely about economic efficiency and prosperity but that above all, “it was that socialism itself—in all its incarnations, wherever and however it was applied—was morally corrupting.” 

  • Snowball, an ideologue, is convinced that he can improve the lives of the animals with a windmill, and recruits the other animals in its construction. However, in his idealism, he does not recognize the weakness of many nor the "vaulting ambition" like that of Macbeth that Napoleon harbors in his heart. A pig of cupidity, Napoleon seizes power for himself by running Snowball off, and he enforces his rule with vicious dogs (secret police) and propaganda dictated to the other animals by Squealer, who in his cleverness confuses those who are not as smart as he that they have simply misunderstood when rules are changed.
  • In their fear, the sheep, who, of course, are weak and unintelligent, allow themselves to be forced to confess to crimes such as urinating in the drinking pool and killing an old ram, a devoted follower of Napoleon. Later, in Chapter 10 when Squealer is spotted walking on two legs like a man,

...there came a moment when spite of everything--in spite of their terror of the dogs, and of the habit...of never complaining, never citicising,...they might have uttered some word of protest. But just at that moment, as though at a signal, all the sheep burst out into a tremendous bleating of--

"Four legs good, two legs better! Four legs good, two legs better!...."

Their indoctrination complete, the sheep are now mere puppets of the state. 

  • Boxer, a true disciple of the doctrines of Old Major, believes that if he just works harder, the windmill can be constructed and things will go well for the animals. In his blind faith in the concept of the farm, he says, "Napoleon is always right." But, the treacherous Napoleon has him sent to the glue factory when he is injured and no longer productive.
  • Benjamin, a donkey, is not fooled by the propaganda of Napoleon; however, he remains merely a cynic and does not attempt to recruit the others in taking action against Napoleon's despotism.

Thus, the failure of the animals' farm is due to their self-defeatism in adherence to idealistic beliefs, cynicism, and their incapability to either recognize or fight against the oppression imposed upon them by Napoleon. Above all, they have not resisted becoming like man as Major has warned them and in their human moral corruption, symbolized by the pigs' walking on two legs, they have stopped treating each other as equals