Introduction

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Last Updated on September 1, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 570

So you’re going to teach George Orwell's Animal Farm. Whether it’s your first or hundredth time, this classic text has been a mainstay of English classrooms for generations. While it has its challenging spots, teaching this text to your class will be rewarding for you and your students. It will give them unique insight into revolutionary politics, social hierarchies, and the nature of power, as well as promote discussion of the roles that education, free speech, and civic participation play in preventing tyranny.

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Facts at a Glance 

  • Publication Date: 1945 
  • Flesch-Kincaid Reading Level:
  • Approximate Word Count: 30, 000 
  • Author: George Orwell 
  • Country of Origin: Great Britain 
  • Genre: Allegory, Fable 
  • Literary Period: Modernism 
  • Conflict: Person vs. Person, Person vs. Society 
  • Narration: Third-Person Omniscient 
  • Setting: A country farm in England, the first half of the 20th century 
  • Literary Devices: Characterization, Personification 
  • Mood: Objective, Cynical, Grim


Texts That Go Well With Animal Farm

1984, also by George Orwell, explores humanity in a dystopian future after World War II. Protagonist Winston Smith explores revolutionary ideas under the surveillance of a totalitarian regime, falling in love with a woman at work who comes to share his views. The two are betrayed, tortured, and converted into loyal citizens of the status quo. 

Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley, is set in the dystopian future, in an advanced society where humans are indoctrinated, anesthetized, and even bred by the central government. Huxley warns against ambivalence in the face of authoritarianism. Many find his novels particularly relevant in the modern era, when prescription drug use is on the rise and entertainment technology plays an increasing role in daily life and governance. 

The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck, depicts the challenges the Joad family faces as they travel from Oklahoma to California via Route 66 during the Great Depression. Though the economic crisis of the era was brought on by the abuses of capitalism, Steinbeck’s iconic novel explores the extent to which humans are willing to either help or harm each other in times of resource scarcity. 

Lord of the Flies, by William Golding, unleashes a group of British schoolboys on a remote island in the South Pacific. By slowly stripping the boys of their civilized tendencies, Golding explores the depths of the human psyche: the instinct to form social order, the propensity for tyranny, and the darkness that lurks in humanity's heart. 

“The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas,” by Ursula K. Le Guin, is a short story that questions the nature of social hierarchies. Though Le Guin initially describes a utopian society in the midst of celebration, she reveals the individual on the lowest rung of society: an isolated, innocent, enfeebled child, whose individual happiness has been sacrificed for the good of the society at large. A work of social philosophy, the story asks readers to question the moral compromises they are willing to make in order to enjoy the benefits of the social order. 

“Why I Write” and “You and the Atomic Bomb” are both non-fiction essays by George Orwell. The former acts as a memoir; Orwell discusses his experience in the Spanish Civil War and his intentions as a journalist, novelist, and essayist. The latter addresses the nuclear arms race within the context of the early years of the Cold War. In fact, it was this essay that coined the term “Cold War.”

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Key Plot Points