In George Orwell's novels Coming Up For Air, Animal Farm, and 1984, he envisages a very bleak England before, during, and after World War II. What is the relationship between England and these...

In George Orwell's novels Coming Up For Air, Animal Farm, and 1984, he envisages a very bleak England before, during, and after World War II. What is the relationship between England and these dystopian texts?

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jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

While Orwell set 1984, Coming Up for Air, and Animal Farm in England, the societies in the novels resembled totalitarian regimes along Soviet lines. Orwell, who was English, was a patriot, and he served his country in World War II in the Home Guard (after being declared unfit for military duty). However, he had explored problems with England in many of his earlier writings, including his essay "Shooting an Elephant." This essay, which revealed the brutality of the English imperial regime, evolved from his service in the imperial police in Burma. He was critical of the British Empire and foresaw its collapse. In addition, he wrote books such as The Road to Wigan Pier, in which he revealed the suffering and poverty of northern English areas such as Yorkshire and Lancashire, which then relied on coal mines for employment of the working class. He was critical of the way in which England treated the working class. 

However much he was critical of England in his writings, he was also a patriot and wanted to protect his country from the totalitarian excesses of Stalinism. He was a socialist but had seen the problems with communism and some forms of socialism in his experiences in the Spanish Civil War (which he wrote about in his book Homage to Catalonia). He set these dystopian novels in England to warn his own countrymen about the dangers of communism. He was in general wary of the excesses of political power, a worry he also documented in his essay "Politics and the English Language," and he was wary of political extremism being exercised in his native country.