Thursday, April 21, 2011

Animal Farm by George Orwell

In this novel, the main characters are the animals of "Manor Farm". The Animals begin to plot to overthrow the humans. One animal in particular, Major, feels very strongly about this and develops the idea of "animalism". Major shares his beliefs with the other animals just before he dies and they adopt them as the new law. They develop seven commandments of animalism which are:
1. Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy.
2. Whatever goes upon four legs, or wings, is a friend.
3. No animal shall wear clothes.
4. No animal shall sleep in a bed.
5. No animal shall drink alcohol.
6. No animal shall kill another animal.
7. All animals are created equal.
Soon the animals develop a plan to run the farmer off the land and once they do, they change the name of the farm to "Animal Farm". With their new found freedom, they begin to run the farm in a very efficient way. Napoleon and Snowball are the leaders of the farm, and together they defeat the farmer a second time when he returns to reclaim his farm. Snowball and Napoleon continue to run the farm together but fight over how to run it more and more as time passes. It reaches a climax when Napoleon and Snowball clash over whether or not to build an electricity-generating windmill on the farm. Napoleon attacks Snowball with his trained dogs and runs him off the farm. Napoleon then takes full control of the farm and builds the windmill that he told Snowball not to build. Napoleon behaves increasingly more like the humans he once despised as the power of controlling the farm makes him feel like he is above all the other animals. He moves into the farmhouse, drinks alcohol, and begins to walk on two legs. He also begins to teach all the other pigs to do the same. Eventually the other animals cannot distinguish the pigs from the humans that they invite over and the seven commandments become one:
All animals are created equal, but some animals are more equal than others.

Discussion Questions:
1. Are some men (or animals) born to be overly proud or does power make them that way?

2. Is it really better to have checks and balances or would a ruler with complete power get more done?

3. What do you think George Orwell is trying to say with this novel?


Cassie M 11-12 said...

1. Some people are definitely born proud, but power and greed are what makes most men corrupt. All humans have a small amount of greed because it is a part of the survival instinct, but most people are not as greedy and power hungry as those that have had a small amount of power at some point. The more wealth and power someone has, the more they want in most cases.

Matt P. 13-14 said...

2. It is definitely better to have checks and balances over a ruler. A decision that a ruler makes on their own may be more quickly made and put into effect, but it has no second opinion. It may be unfair to some while beneficial to a smaller few. A ruler in a system without checks and balances could become completely power hungry, taking more and more power away from his or her people and doing what they want. It is better for there to be some influence or control over the decision making process, so that the ruler's power is kept in check and rules are put into effect that are fair to more people.

Kaitlyn S. 13-14 said...

1. I think power causes a lot of people to become overly proud and somewhat arrogant. The power they have makes them believe that they are above common people which makes them proud and almost expectant of things. People may also be born that way as well.
2. I believe having a ruler with complete power would get more things done but having checks and balances would make it more fair. Though things may not get done as fast, they are done with the thoughts of others in mind.
3. I think he is illustrating how easy it is to get corrupted by power and how some of our own government is taking advantage of the regular citizens. This also shows the complete hypocrites of society especially towards the end when the Napoleon acts as a human which is against his own decrees.

Joe K. 11-12 said...

To answer question number two, i think it is much better to have a system of checks and balances. This way of government is far superior to an absolute ruler, as it involves more opinions in the decision making process. Although, this makes making decisions tougher and more drawn out, it provides for more input and thought from a variety of sources.

Vanessa D. 13-14 said...

3.) I think George Orwell is trying to show how easy it is for a group to come up with an idea and take it to extreme (i.e. extremists such as the Nazis, Al Qaeda, etc). I feel he is trying to show how easy it is for a group of people to overthrow the "higher power" and then become corrupt. I think he was drawing parallels to history and the many types of governments and extremist powers that have rose to power and then became corrupted.

Julie S. 5-6 said...

1. I agree that everyone is born with some amount of pride. But the ones with unhealthy levels of pride are born and not made. I believe that people are born the way that they are and must make a conscious effort to change which is not usually done to achieve a negative character trait.

2. In a perfect world the best option would be one ruler but with the flaws of the human nature, a system of checks and balances is the only way to keep the leaders honest.

3. I agree with Vanessa that Orwell is trying to warn against the extremist nature of socialism and the idea of one ruler who has the good of the people at heart. The ruler will inevitably become corrupted.

Betsy C 1314 said...

I think that some people are born into feeling superior, but also some people grow into it. I think that people are all different, like some children grow up to be serial killers while their siblings don't. I believe that people can be born or formed into certain characters.

Alexander C. [13-14] said...

3. I believe Orwell is satirizing the socialist system, more specifically Russia and how Josef Stalin was the dictator who came to power. Orwell explains how the pigs live and how they are governed by the eldest pig in a socialist manner where "everyone is equal". He is basically showing how the communist system that Stalin instilled on his citizens failed.

Justin B. 11-12 said...

2) Without a doubt a ruler with complete power would get more done, he doesn't have to convince hundreds of people that what he wants to do is the right thing to do after all. However, as we all know absolute power corrupts absolutely. While more things would get done, it would also leave the door open for oppression and tyranny, which no one needs. This is why checks and balances are better then absolute power. Even though it is a given that less will get done, checks and balances prevent the tyranny that can so easily result from a ruler having absolute power.

David G. 13-14 said...

2. I think that having a ruler would get more things done and in a more timely fashion however at the cost of human rights and liberties. Things would be done that undoubtedly would be harmful to its citizens but it is undeniable that things would get done quicker.

Eric Y 13-14 said...

For question one, I believe no one is born overly proud. The traits we gain, which make us who we are, are produced overtime with the influence of the outside world. I think power creates Snowball's Hubris.

For two, I believe a ruler with complete power would get things more done, but it would make more citizens unhappy compared with a checks and balances system.