Definition of Bandwagon
Bandwagon is a persuasive technique and a type of propaganda through which a writer persuades his readers, so that the majority could agree with the argument of the writer. He does this by suggesting that, since the majority agrees, the reader should too. For instance, “Everyone is voting for David, so definitely he is the best presidential candidate,” is intended to convince others. The term bandwagon means, to “jump on the bandwagon,” to follow what others are doing, or to conform.
While listening to a politician, or reading a book, it is often observed that the speaker or the writer tries to encourage the audience to think or act in a particular way because others are doing that, despite having ideas and beliefs of their own.
Examples of Bandwagon in Literature
Example #1: Animal Farm (By George Orwell)
In the novel Animal Farm, George Orwell uses bandwagon technique effectively. At the very beginning, a song “Beasts of England” seems to be very appealing and catchy, because everyone picks it up so swiftly as if they like the idea. Again, we see this technique when Boxer, a powerful and loyal animal on the farm, promotes bandwagon propaganda inadvertently with his work ethics, as he always tries to work hard. He maintains the view that, “If Comrade Napoleon says it, it must be right.” This shows he wishes to follow Comrade Napoleon and his ideas.
Bandwagon technique continues to exist as the animals only accept the ideals and changing commandments because other animals are doing the same. Another bandwagon technique comes out when Mollie is curious to know whether she will be able to wear precious ribbons and have sugar after Rebellion. However, Snowball informs her that they symbolize slavery and Mollie accepts this without any resistance, although she never believes it.
Example #2: Julius Caesar (By William Shakespeare)
In William Shakespeare’s play, Julius Caesar, Mark Antony delivers his famous speech at the funeral of Caesar, which is a brilliant example of bandwagon. Mark Antony has delivered this magnificent speech to win over the favor of the audience. He negates excuses that Brutus had made, though he had calmed down the public and persuaded them that Caesar had to die for their good.
Antony comes forward and tells them that he hopes the crowd would not riot, and convinces them that Cassius and Brutus were murderers and responsible for ripping apart the town. Speaking on a personal level, Antony grabs public attention as he leaves his position and, being a commoner saying, “Friends, Romans, Countrymen.”
Example #3: The Crucible (By Arthur Miller)
Abigail: “I go back to Jesus; I kiss His hand. I saw Sarah Good with the Devil! I saw Goody Osburn with the Devil! I saw Bridget Bishop with the Devil!”
Betty: “I saw George Jacobs with the Devil! I saw Goody Howe with the Devil!…I saw Martha Bellow with the Devil!”
Abigail: “I saw Goody Sibber with the Devil!”
Putnam: “The marshal, I’ll call the marshal!”
Betty: “I saw Alice Barrow with the Devil!”
Hale: “Let the marshal bring irons!”
In this excerpt, Abigail Williams claims that she has seen many women with the devil. While she proposes this idea, suddenly all of the girls jump on the bandwagon, and start following Abigail by accusing those women whom they dislike.
Example #4: 1984 (By George Orwell)
George Orwell uses bandwagon technique in his novel, 1984. In this novel, the leading party uses fear techniques to manipulate people to follow the majority. The bandwagon technique plays effectively on their feelings of isolation and loneliness. The party ensures that nobody is trustworthy. They even turn the children against their parents. No one can have relationships without their permission.
Its best example is “Two Minute Hate” – a particular time in which everyone shouts at Goldstein, the enemy of the party. Everyone participates in this bandwagon and consequently intense hatred overwhelms Winston, who also takes part and produce feelings of achievement in his heart.
Function of Bandwagon
The purpose of this technique is to make the audience think and act in a way that the majority follows. This tendency of following the beliefs and actions of others occurs when an audience sees others are also conforming. We see its usage in literature, politics, and advertisements. Bandwagon is in fact a good approach for persuasive writing that successfully works on human minds and psychology. Conversely, writers often use it as a pressure tactic by creating a sense of fear among the readers if they do not agree with their beliefs.