Animal Farm Questions and Answers
by George Orwell

Animal Farm book cover
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Can I get 2 detailed and explained genres on Animal Farm?

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Lori Steinbach eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Orwell himself calls this a fairy tale, so that's one genre.  It's also a fable, so there's genre number two.

A fairy tale is a story in which the characters aren't particularly well developed--just enough to make the story believable.  They are often caricatures or stereotypes (i.e., a wicked witch or a sleeping beauty or a handsome prince).  They are generally pretty black or white, good or evil, without much gray in between.  The story usually has a moral ending--moreso in modern fairy tales than in, say, the old Brothers Grimm Tales--where the wolf in Little Red Riding Hood ends up in the cooking pot, for example.  The modern fairy tale is more polished and certainly more kid-friendly.  To some degree, Animal Farm is, then, a true fairy tale.

We usually classify this work as a fable, though.  A fable is similar to a fairy tale but usually has animal characters.  Those characters often have the physical characteristics of animals but the also the more human qualities of speaking and thinking.  That's exactly true in this novel.  The four-footed animals cannot, for example, walk on two feet--until they learn.  They do, however, speak, think, and react as humans would.  They are also symbolic caricatures, in that they represent something beyond the actual (i.e., Benjamin represents the intellects, Boxer is the symbol of the working class).  The best examples of fables come from Aesop's Fables, of course, where animals learn lessons and present morals for the reader.  To that extent, Animal Farm is also a fable. 

I've included some more detailed sources below.  Hope that helps!

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