Introduction to Animal Farm Terms, Historical Context, Author Bio, and Synopsis http://anneman.files.wordpress.com/2007/05/animal-farm.jpg
Author: George Orwell • British; Born Eric Blair in India in 1903 • Attends prestigious Eton College in England • Joins Indian Imperial Police in Burma • Begins to resent the oppression of imperialism becomes a writer • Purposely lives as a hobo in London to experience the life of the “common man” • Believed in the rights of the common man; opposed tyranny • One of the most powerful and influential political writers of the 20th century
Allegory • An extended metaphor comparing two unlike things • Characters, objects, events, and descriptions carry a fully developed set of meanings in addition to the literal meaning • Example: Animal Farm is a story about the rebellion of farm animals and a commentary on the Russian Revolution and its key players. • Often contains a message and/or teaches a lesson
Fable • Illustrates a moral that is usually, but not always, explicitly stated at the end • Uses animals as main characters to depict man’s vices, follies, and virtues • Example: • Aesop’s Fables: “The Tortoise and the Hare” • Moral: Slow and steady wins the race • Virtue: dedication and perseverance • Vice: cockiness and pride
Orwell’s Inspiration He once wrote after observing a little boy whip a large cart-horse: “It struck me that if only such animals became aware of their strength we should have no power over them, and that men exploit animals in much the same was as the rich exploit the proletariat.”
Satire • Writing that ridicules something (a person, a group, humanity, an attitude or feeling, or a social institution) in order to reveal a weakness • Examples: • The Colbert Report • The Simpsons • Desperate Housewives http://www.elsberg-tuning.dk/images/simpsons.jpg • In satirical literature, authors often challenge the reader to take a different course of action or to adopt a different opinion.
On his beliefs... • “Every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism and for democratic socialism, as I understand it.” • “Animal Farm was the first book in which I tried with full consciousness of what I was doing to fuse political purpose and artistic purpose into one whole.”
Historical Context • In the early 1900’s, the majority of Russia’s inhabitants are impoverished because of the financial strains caused by WWI. • A tiny minority of citizens control most of the country’s wealth. • The intelligentsia, a class of concerned intellectuals, join with the workers and peasants to overthrow the wealthy aristocrats. • Their ideal government is a form of socialism based on the principles of the political philosopher, Karl Marx.
Karl Marx: the Theorist • (1818-1883) • Marx believed that a society’s economy would naturally evolve from a monarchy, to capitalism, to socialism, and on to communism. • Communism, the final state, is a system under which all property is held in common. • Under communism, the dignity of the poor is restored, and all people live as equals. • Marx’s call to action: “Workers of the world, unite!”
The Road to Stalin • February 1917: Tsar Nicholas II, the monarch of Russia, abdicates the throne • November 1917: (Bolshevik Revolution) Vladimir Lenin, the architect of the Russian Revolution, becomes chief commissar. Under Lenin’s regime, the government controls land and industry • Trotsky, a popular and charismatic speaker, and Stalin, a crafty and manipulative politician, begin vying for post-Lenin leadership • In 1924: Stalin orchestrates an alliance against Trotsky, who is eventually expelled from Russia • In the following years, Stalin solidifies his position as the unquestioned dictator of the Soviet Union
Stalin: the Soviet Leader • (1879-1953) • In 1924, Stalin gains power of Russia, now the U.S.S.R. (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) • Stalin has Trotsky expelled and eventually assassinated • During the “Great Purge” of the 1930’s, Stalin is responsible for the deaths of millions of suspected “enemies of the state” • Russia begins to suffer under a surge of violence, fear, and starvation • Even after Stalin’s death, the U.S.S.R. remains partially intact until 1991
Revolution in Animal Farm • The animals on Manor Farm decide that humans are the cause of all their distress • They are guided to this discovery by Old Major, a respected pig • After Old Major’s death, the animals oust the humans and give the farm its new name: Animal Farm • Several pigs assume the decision-making responsibilities for the group • Eventually, a pig named Napoleon becomes the leader of the animals
These guys look familiar… Characters Historical Figures Old Major Napoleon Snowball Marx/Lenin Stalin Trotsky