Animal Farm Questions and Answers
by George Orwell

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Why did George Orwell originally call his novel Animal Farm a "fairy story"?

Animal Farm fits into genres of European literature that use animals with human characteristics to make a serious point. By calling Animal Farm a "fairy story" Orwell calls attention to this connection.

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Orwell may have used this subtitle because Animal Farm is, in fact, clearly a "fairy story." It is a story about talking animals who take over their farm and establish their own government. Some of the animals—the pigs—are actually transformed into human beings, or something like humans, at the end of the book. These, of course, are fantastic story elements that one would associate with a fairy tale. Some readers compare Animal Farm to a genre of literature associated with Aesop's fables, which also feature animals with human characteristics. Like Aesop's fables, Animal Farm is intended to make a serious point about human existence.

By calling Animal Farm a "fairy story," Orwell is not suggesting that it is frivolous or silly. Other fairy tales in European literature are quite grim in their lessons about human nature. So there is a sense in which Orwell calls attention to the gravity of his work by characterizing it as a "fairy story." He is making a point about the rise of totalitarianism,...

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