Study Guide

Watership Down Politics

By Richard Adams


Rabbits in Watership Down don't have political parties and elections (or attack ads), but they do have politics. For rabbits, politics boils down to "Whom do you want to lead you?" and "What sort of world do you want to live in?" We see several different warrens, each with their own political organization, from the more democratic Watership Down (where everyone has a voice and everyone is free to do what comes naturally), to the more tyrannical totalitarian Efrafa (where the rabbits are controlled and not allowed to be natural). Rabbits may not vote every four years, but they do have feelings about their Chief Rabbits, like admiration and fear. And they do express them.

Questions About Politics

  1. Do all the different warrens have different political systems? Does Cowslip's warren have some political system?
  2. How does Woundwort control his warren? Is it through power and violence alone? Or does he also inspire his followers?
  3. Why doesn't Bigwig become the Chief Rabbit? Would he make a good Chief Rabbit?
  4. How do rabbit political systems differ from human systems? Do we have a human equivalent of the Chief Rabbit and the Owsla?

Chew on This

In Watership Down, friendship is the basis for the best political communities. Yeah, tell that to Congress.

The war between Watership Down and Efrafa proves that tyrannical political systems will always fail because they lack flexibility (and are vulnerable to dog attacks).