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Animal Farm Context and Background
Transcript of Animal Farm Context and Background
The author, George Orwell
The Russian Revolution
..."Animal Farm" is, on the surface, a book about talking pigs, horses, etc. But between the lines of Orwell's writing, a deep look at society and politics awaits.
Born in India, 1903
Parents were poor, but considered themselves "elite" in class
Attended boarding school - his poverty and brilliance set him apart
In his 20's, was a policeman, but eventually quit and "slummed" it
...in 2 minutes. :)
Context = important for ANY book...especially so for "Animal Farm."
Why read it?
Ideas & themes.
It's a classic book from the canon.
These experiences showed in his writings - often writes against the government or upper class
Developed a hatred of communism during Spanish Civil War
First major success was "Animal Farm" in 1944
His other "masterpiece" is "1984," written in 1949
Orwell died shortly after "1984," in1950.
"The Communist Manifesto" (Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels) comes out. Essentially says capitalist economy = many problems, and the workers should be in control
- Some highlights: Abolition of private property; centralization of credit, transportation, and communication > STATE; combined agriculture with industry
October - Russian Revolution. Famine, poor leadership (Tsar Nicholas II) leads to monarchy being overthrown.
Civil war breaks out - eventually, the USSR (Soviet Union) is formed (communism starts).
Russian leader Stalin puts in many plans to rapidly industrialize Russia, including huge agriculture changes. Widespread famine kills millions.
1936 - 1938
Stalin "purges" anyone who is anti-communist. 500,000 to 2 million are killed.
Stalin signs a peace agreement - "German-Soviet Nonaggression Pact" - with Hitler, who breaks the agreement in 1941 and attacks Russia. Eventually, this leads to Hitler's downfall.
Born in 1879 - smallpox and a deformed arm = inferiority complex. Hated the educated, chip on his shoulder.
Worked his way through the Russian military ranks; was a genius at manipulating relationships and contacts.
From 1922 - 1924, went from a lowly military official to closest advisor to Vladimir Lenin. When Lenin died in 1924, Stalin took over power.
Struck out at those who might undermine his power - even his once trusted friends, like Leon Trotsky.
Died in 1953 amongst many assassination plots.
Born in 1879 - as a teen, was active in anti-government work. Jailed often, and exiled to Siberia.
Returned to help with the Revolution in 1917, and became a large written presence during this time.
Led the Red Army in the Civil War, and thought he would take over when Lenin died.
Stalin exiled him in 1927 - Trotsky still wrote much criticizing Stalin from Mexico (lived with famed painters Diego Rivera and Frida Khalo).
Was killed by an assassin with an ice AXE in 1940.
How will this connect with "LotF"? To our society today? These are some of the questions we'll answer along the way.
In your notebook - what do you know about the term "allegory"?
Examples, definition, experience...
A story, poem, or picture that can be interpreted to reveal a hidden meaning, typically a moral or political one.
Ex. - Aesop's Fables > "Tortoise and the Hare." Moral message/meaning....?
- a form of extended metaphor in which objects, persons, and actions in a narrative are EQUATED with DIRECT meanings that lie outside the narrative (story) itself.
Symbolism and Allegory
Symbolism = broad. Objects, people stand for something big - an idea.
SYMBOLIZES > power; authority; order
SYMBOLIZES > intelligence; reason; hope
ALLEGORICAL > The power of science and logic over the opinion of the masses
Age of Enlightenment?
ALLEGORICAL > Democracy
Or, a specific instance of anarchy/autocracy displacing democracy.
Allegory = deeper or more specific meaning.
- Political or social implications - usually a DIRECT reference.
is a CLASSIC example of allegory. We'll look at WHAT that allegory is in a few.
But first, let's practice with another...classic....text.
Your task - 1) Listen
2) Consider the allegorical connections
3) Write to answer the following:
What is this story an allegory for? Support with at least 3 textual examples. Think big!
SYMBOLIZES > evil;
the savagery within us all
ALLEGORICAL > The Devil
("Lord of the Flies" is often
a translation of Beelzebub, a demon/the devil)
- Context/get books
- Read it (next 3ish weeks)
- Annotate (by 10/19 and 10/20)
- Socratic Circle (ON those dates)
- Lit. analysis essay (by check-in 3)
- complex THEMES and characters
One BIG way Animal Farm connects to
society - and politics - is Orwell's focus on propaganda.
8 main types used:
- Plain folks
- Logical fallacies
- Glittering generalities
Used often in politics...but also in advertising.
Thinker, writer, activist
Military strategist and commander
1) simple SURFACE idea
3) ALLEGORY = Russian Revolution
Three LAYERS to mine
(If you want more info...
video linked here:)
- In pairs or groups of 3, define the 8 main types of propaganda.
- For each type, find a modern example - in print media or video - that shows how that propaganda is used effectively.
- For each type, also briefly explain how the example you choose fits the type of propaganda, and - as an
extension evaluation piece! - how effective it is in doing so.