Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Mexican Revolution Essay

The Mexican Revolution Essay

The Mexican Revolution was a violent political and social upheaval that occurred in Mexico in the early 20th century. The revolution began in November 1910 as an effort to overthrow the 30-year dictatorship of Porfirio Dнaz. It grew into a widespread rebellion that would eventually change the structure of Mexico’s economy, government, and society. Various revolutionary leaders and factions pursued different goals during and immediately after the revolution. Moderate and conservative leaders sought primarily political reform, including free and fair elections. More radical leaders sought far reaching social reforms, including the redistribution of land to poor farmers, limits on the influence of the Roman Catholic Church, and labor reforms that would give workers the right to organize and to strike.

The fundamental goals of the revolution were incorporated in the 1917 constitution, although widespread factional fighting continued until 1920 and it took almost another two decades for many of the reforms contained in the constitution to be acted upon. And at the end of the 20th century, the goals of the revolution, particularly the need for an accountable, democratic government and the right of all Mexicans to enjoy a basic standard of living, continue to influence the nation.
During the revolution, different leaders pursued different objectives. For example the leaders Francisco Indalйcio Madero and Venustiano Carranza both were later presidents of Mexico, and sought primarily political reform. The two most famous rebel leaders were Francisco “Pancho” Villa and Emiliano Zapata; who supported the growing demands from the lower classes for major social and economic reforms. Zapata, in particular, championed the demands of poor farmers for land to cultivate. Others sought curbs on the social control and political influence exercised by the Catholic Church.


People such as these revolutionaries; particularly Zapata and Villa, sought to reverse the effects that the Spanish colonization had on the Mexican people. Before the brutal four hundred year bloodshed that was the Spanish occupation, despite the fact that the nation of the Aztecs was ruled by an authoritarian, every citizen was entitled to corn as so not to starve. This was what these revolutionaries sought as a basic principle that most of us in more developed countries tend to forget; the right to eat.

Mariano Azuela’s novel, The Underdogs, provides a personal view of the Mexican Revolution of 1910. He molds his firsthand account of the revolution into this story as a doctor serving under Pancho Villa.

The novel has two main characters that display differing views of the revolution itself. These two main characters represent Azuela’s own feelings for the revolution. He believed in the ideals of the revolution and not the fighting and bloodshed himself. The reader is able to see first had what a revolution does to a person or group of people involved in it, something few in the modern west have ever seen. In examination of the two main characters and their places within the novel, we get a better understand how the Mexican Revolution of 1910 becomes more clear within the novel.

One character Demetrio Martinez, does not simply join the cause of the revolution but rather is forced into it for the protection of his family. His process is a gradual one as he is given higher rank advancement, he gains prestige and honor among his fellow revolutionaries. He goes from being a peaceful individual to a compulsive fighter; a prime example of how person can change in war. However, later he becomes disillusioned with the revolution. The author uses Demetrio to present the view of what went wrong with the revolution in his eyes and why he later left it behind.

In the first section of the book we are shown the other main characters of the novel, such as Luis Cervantes. Cervantes embodies the hopes, dreams, and ideals of the revolutionary effort. As he states to Demetrio’s men after being captured, “I want you to be convinced that I am truly one of your coreligionists… that is to say, a person who possesses the same religion, who is inspired by the same ideals, who defends and fights for the same cause you are now fighting for” (26) Right after completing this speech Demetrio asked: “What are we fighting for?” (30). The lack of understanding of the revolution itself on the part of Demetrio is made up for in the character of Cervantes. Cervantes then imparts his ideals of the revolutionary struggle and its meaning to Demetrio.

Unfortunately, Demetrio never really gains a full understanding of Cervantes’ “teachings.” It is late in the course of the novel that we gain a fuller understanding of Demetrio’s views about the revolution as the fighting draws to its final stage and Pancho Villa is defeated. He has, by this point, reached the realization that fighting is all he knows how to do anymore. He, like the author, loses sight of the ideal goals that the revolution stood for.

This novel represents Azuela’s own personal feelings of the Mexican Revolution. He truly shows the events of the revolution in real life by mixing his own experience and understanding of the revolution into these two fictional characters.

It is the authors own experiences of the war that he pours into these main characters that not only make for a successfully novel, but also a better understanding of the Mexican Revolution of 1910. We are able to see first hand what people fighting for an ideal can go through, and even eventually lose that ideal and be only fighting for the sake of fighting. This is a common thing and moral problem among all revolutionaries. For as soon as they forget the ideal, they are no longer fighting for it, but for the people they are being led by, whether or not they know it or like it.

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