How can I compare and contrast To The Lighthouse and Animal Farm?

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sangelis84 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

To the Lighthouse was written by Virginia Woolf, a British author, after World War I. It was published in 1927. Animal Farm was also written by a British author (George Orwell) and published in 1945, at the close of the Second World War. 

Stylistically, the novels are quite different. Animal Farm is an allegory, which uses farmhouse scenery to make a critique of the politics of the Soviet Union. Its characters and plot are mostly important for their symbolic purpose--that is, for the way in which they recall actual people and political events in post-revolutionary Russia. 

To the Lighthouse, conversely, is a modernist novel, and as such its treatment of characters is extremely different. Rather than using characters to "stand in" for world political figures, it uses characterization, particularly through devices like internal monologue and "stream of consciousness" writing, to explore dimensions and elements of subjectivity, consciousness, and perception--that is, universal qualities of the human experience. 

To the Lighthouse, however, shares Animal Farm's concern about national politics and violence: though Animal Farm is much more overtly political, To the Lighthouse also records the death of two of its protagonists in the Second World War, and leaves the others to mourn their loss after the war is over. The novel is an oblique, rather than overt, critique of the national political power structures that create and perpetrate violence.

ftl2105 | Student

The two novels are vastly different, primarily in their subject matter: To the Lighthouse is nearly apolitical and it follows the Ramsay family before and after World War 1; it is set entirely at and around the family's beach house. Animal Farm is a novel concerned primarily with political metaphor and is a depiction of a dystopia -- To the Lighthouse is not dystopian (it's fairly realistic). 

Where the two novels converge is not in their subject matter but rather in their philosophical motivations. Both novels are not very plot-oriented (recall that hardly anything actually happens in To the Lighthouse) but instead are composed mostly of philosophical ideas. Animal Farm is occupied with the politics of the early twentieth century (the Russian Revolution in particular). To the Lighthouse is occupied with themes of subjectivity, perception, and the devastating impact of World War 1.