Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1097
Sample Analytical Paper Topics The following paper topics are designed to test your understanding of the novel as a whole and to analyze important themes and literary devices. Following each question is a sample outline to help get you started.
Topic #1 “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” This statement by Lord Acton, sent in a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton on April 5, 1887, provides the basis for understanding the effects of power on the heads of state, and it furnishes insight into one of the main themes in the novel Animal Farm. Write a paper that shows how power affects the characters, the events and the outcome of the book.
Outline I. Thesis Statement: Animal Farm is a historical novel, set in England but dealing with the events leading up to and after the Russian Revolution of 1917. It illustrates the idea expressed by Lord Acton that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. This abuse of power can be demonstrated by studying Napoleon’s actions in the book.
II. Power on Animal Farm before the Rebellion A. Man has absolute power, taking without producing B. Jones operates the Manor Farm with no regard for his animals 1. Animals aren’t fed 2. Animals are slaughtered 3. No animal lives its life to a natural end 4. Animal families are broken up by the sale of the young
III.The Meeting A. Old Major holds the key to power: eliminate man B. The pigs are the leaders even before the Rebellion 1. They are more clever than the others 2. They are assertive, sitting in the front at the meeting 3. They teach themselves to read 4. They are the organizers forming various animal committees.
IV. The Rebellion A. Elimination of man creates a “power vacuum” B. Napoleon, Snowball and Squealer become the new leaders that fill the vacuum C. Pigs get special privileges—milk and apples
V. The Harvest A. Pigs are the supervisors B. They make the work schedules C. They move into the harness room D. Special privileges for the pigs are said to be necessary to keep Jones away
VI. The Windmill A. Napoleon and Snowball vie for control of the farm B. Napoleon eliminates the competition 1. He uses the dogs to expel Snowball 2. Squealer discredits Snowball C. Napoleon assumes the power to run Animal Farm
VII. Changes on Animal Farm A. Trade with the humans 1. The arrival of Mr. Whymper 2. The sale of a stack of hay 3. The sale of part of the wheat crop 4. Contract to sell eggs B. Pigs move into farmhouse C. Change in the Fourth Commandment concerning beds by the addition of the phrase “with sheets.” D. An end to voting at the Sunday meetings E. The pigs become responsible for making all the work decisions
VIII. Force Equals Power A. Mutiny of the Hens who object to the sale of their eggs 1. Starved out by Napoleon 2. Ended by unleashing the dogs B. The “Great Purge” 1. Animal leaders opposed to Napoleon’s policies are killed by the dogs 2. Boxer comes under attack for questioning Napoleon’s condemnation of Snowball
IX. More Changes A. Changes in the Sixth Commandment allow Napoleon to kill other animals by adding the words “without cause.” B. Fifth Commandment allows the pigs to drink by the addition of the phrase “to excess” to the original Commandment
X. Napoleon Sells Boxer to the Knacker
XI. Return to “The Manor Farm” A. Pigs are in complete control B. They are the new aristocracy 1. They do no physical labor
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1. They do no physical labor 2. Pigs carry whips 3. School is built for the baby pigs C. Animals can’t tell the difference between man and pig
Topic #2 Animal Farm presents a classic blueprint for an individual’s rise to power. It presents a step by step recipe for dictatorship and control. Write a paper that outlines the methods used by Napoleon and the pigs of their takeover of Animal Farm.
Outline I. Thesis Statement: Animal Farm presents a recipe for dictatorship and control. The steps taken by Napoleon have been used by dictators from Julius Caesar to Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin to achieve their ambitions.
II. Organization A. Develop a core of devout followers willing to die for the cause B. Develop a belief system—Animalism C. Identify a common enemy—man
III. Education A. The pigs teach themselves to read and write B. The other animals are kept ignorant
IV. Blind Obedience A. The sheep—“Four legs good, two legs bad.” B. The dogs—They are devoted to Napoleon C. Boxer—“Napoleon is always right.”
V. Propaganda A. Slanted and false information—Squealer’s ability to convince the animals—turn black into white B. Rewriting history C. Campaign against Snowball D. Changing the rules E. Changing the Seven Commandments
VI. Fear A. The fear of Jones’s return B. Fear of the dogs
VII. Eliminate the Competition A. Running Snowball off the farm B. Eliminating the troublemakers 1. Killing the hen leaders of the mutiny 2. Killing the pigs who protest the end of the meetings
VIII. Scapegoating—Identify the cause of all the problems A. Man—Frederick and Pilkington B. Snowball—Jones’s agent
IX . Force—Use of the dogs
Topic #3 Animal Farm is a study of a dream betrayed. It begins with hope and it ends with despair. And although some things seem to change, the important things remain the same. Life for the animals only gets worse. Write a report that shows how and why this statement is true.
Outline I. Thesis Statement: Animal Farm is the study of a dream betrayed. It begins with hope for the animals and ends with their miserable lives getting even worse.
II. Old Major’s Dream A. Man is the enemy B. Eliminate man and life will be better C. Work for the Rebellion D. Avoid becoming like man when the Rebellion is achieved
III. The Rules for Utopia A. Animalism B. Equality C. The unalterable Seven Commandments
IV. Cracks in the Dream A. Preferential treatment for the pigs B. Napoleon and Snowball struggle for power C. Division of labor 1. The workers—Boxer and the others 2. The supervisors—the pigs
V. Abuses of Power A. The expulsion of Snowball B. Unleashing the dogs C. Creating fear D. Using force
VI. Changes in the Rules A. Altering the unalterable Commandments B. Rewriting history for Napoleon’s personal glory C. Destroying Snowball’s contributions
VII. Selling out the Dream A. Engaging in trade B. Selling the eggs and murdering the chickens C. Selling out Boxer for money to buy whiskey
VIII. The Pig-Men A. Walking on two legs B. Turning into men