George Orwell's Animal Farm

Fable and Satire in a Rural Landscape


Seminar Paper, 2008

16 Pages, Grade: 1,0


Excerpt

Table of Contents

Introduction

About the Author

Animal Farm – Fable and Satire in a Rural Landscape
Definition of 'fable'
Animal Farm as a Fable
The Meaning of the Fable
Definition of Satire
Satire in Animal Farm
Political Satire
Religious Satire
The Meaning of Landscape in Animal Farm

Conclusion

Bibliography
Primary Literature
Secondary Literature

Introduction

George Orwell's story about the rebellion of farm animals chasing all humans from the farm and running the farm by their own power is well known by readers all over the world. This seminar paper will research why George Orwell wrote Animal Farm as a fable based in a rural, English landscape. After a short biography about the author, the reader will be introduced into the meaning of fable and satire for the story and get an idea why the setting in a rural English scenery is meaningful to Orwell.

About the Author

George Orwell is the pen name for Eric Arthur Blair, born on 25 June 1903 at Motihari, India as the son of the British Richard Walmsley Blair, who has been working at the Indian Goverment's Opium Department and his wife Ida Mabel Blair who took Eric and his older sister back to England in 1904.[1] First being educated at a local school, Eric attented a prepatory boarding school in 1911. In 1916 he had left the boarding school and studied for a term at Wellington College before he became a scholar at Eton in 1917. After leaving Eton in 1921, Orwell went to Burma in 1922 to serve with the Indian Imperial Police as an Assistant Superindendent of Police. In 1927 Orwell left Burma and went to London and later to Paris on a voluntary trip of tramping and living a rough life. In 1929 Orwell returned to England and moved to Southwold, the hometown of his parents, teaching, tramping and hop-picking.[2] These „low-life experiences“[3] made Orwell fully aware of the existence of the working class and increased his dislike for authority.[4] From January to March 1936 Orwell again travelled to observe the working class and to live with them. By the end of that year Orwell went to Spain and fought in the Spanish Civil War. He joined the United Marxist Workers' Party (Poum) to observe the war and write about it as a journalist. Being disillusioned with the way marxism turned out to be, Orwell left POUM and joined the contingent of the Independent Labour Party. In 1937 Orwell got injured by a shot through the throat, returned to Britain and wrote Homage to Catalonia, his record of his time in Spain. His work of writing one book every year was set back in 1938, when Orwell suffered seriously from tuberculosis. By the time the Second World War broke out on 3 September 1939, Orwell was medically unable to fight in the army and moved to London in 1940, where he worked as a talks producer in the Indian section of the BBC from 1941 to 1943.[5] In 1943 he had to give up his work at the Home Guard as well due to his poor health. At the end of that year Orwell gave up his job at the BBC and worked as a journalist as well as a social and political essayist for the Tribune, The Observer and for the Manchester Evening News.[6] Orwell's Animal Farm, which he wrote in 1943-44 and which was published in 1945, was a great success and Orwell became famous all over the world. After the success of Animal Farm, which Orwell considered as „the first book in which I tried, with full consciousness of what I was doing, to fuse political purpose and artistic purpose into one whole“[7], Orwell worked on his second famous book 1984, which was published in 1949, only half a year before he died because of tuberculosis on 21 January 1950.

Animal Farm – Fable and Satire in a Rural Landscape

Definition of 'fable'

A fable is „a brief tale in verse or prose that conveys a moral lesson, usually by giving human speech and manners to animals and inanimate things“[8], which usually concludes with a moral in form of an epigram.[9] Fables are usually writen as so-called beast fables, in which animals show human behavior and skills and characteristics.[10]

Animal Farm as a Fable

Animal Farm is one of George Orwell's most successful books. Even though Orwell chose a difficult topic to deal with, its message is quite easy to understand even for younger readers who do not know or understand much about Stalin, the Russian Revolution and its consequences for the population.

On the first view, Animal Farm is just a story about a farm on which the animals, after hearing of an old boar's dream about a world in which all animals live free without being oppressed by humans, start a rebellion and chase all humans off the farm. The animals then start to run the farm by themselves, with all animals being equal and and each animal working according to its own capacities. In their seven commandments, which are agreed by all animals, they arrange the rules which they need on the farm to make sure every human behavior, such as walking, drinking alcohol, wearing clothes or sleeping in beds, is illegal. The seventh and last commandment says that „All animals are equal“[11]. But this idealized equality does not last very long. Not long after the humans are chased from the farm and the animals start to work on their own, the pigs, being the most intelligent among the farm animals, explain the other animals that it has to be the pigs who take over some of the farm's management because none of the other animals would be capable of all that brainwork. Within the pigs the two boars Napoleon and Snowball turn out to be the most powerful ones and use a third pig, Squealer, to anounce their decisions. During the harvest the pigs are not seen working on the fields as every other animal. When the other animals wonder about that, it is Squealer who explains to them that the brainwork of the pigs is much harder than the work the other animals have to do on the fields. It is also the pigs who are leading the weekly meetings which take place every sunday instead of work. The pigs are the only animals who are capable of learning the whole alphabet and teach themselves reading. Quite soon they take a room as a headquarter for themselves where they study books from the farmhouse and increase their knowledge which the other animals do not possess. Instead of sharing the cow's milk and the apples from the fields with the others the pigs start using those luxury goods for their own mash.

Even though the other animals observe this new hierarchy, none of them is either able or willing to stand up against it. Whenever they doubt that the pig's behaviour is right and according to their commandments, it is Squealer who twists the language in a way that the animals have no choice but to believe that there is nothing wrong.

It is only through the two carthorses Boxer and Clover and the old donkey Benjamin that Orwell gives a general idea of the animals' feelings. The three of them seem to be the only ones of the remaining farm animals that would be able to stand up against the pigs. But all three of them fail in their own way. Boxer would have the bodily strength to stand up – but his lack of intelligence disables him to realize any drawback of the system and so he keeps working for the pigs as hard as possible untill he is old and sold to a gluemaker to get some more money for the pig's benefit. The second carthorse Clover seems to be much more aware of the farm's situation, but her insights are not deep enough and her lack of strength finally stops her as well from standing up against the pigs. Benjamin, the donkey, has both, Clovers insight and Boxers strength, but lacks a certain amount of social responsibility. Even though he sees and understands everything, in Benjamin's point of view life is always the same and will never change no matter who is ruling it and so he is physically and mentally unwilling to stand up against the pigs.[12]

It is easy to see for the reader that among the pigs the two boars Napoleon and Snowball never agree about anything. While Snowball is perfect at making up plans, such as organising the animals in special commitees or building a windmill to produce their own electricity, Napoleons offends him by being a great talker and tries to convince the other animals that Snowball's ideas are nonsense. Instead of supporting the plans of the windmill Napoleon prefers trading with human beings from nearby farms. Once Napoleon realizes that the others tend to take over Snowball's opinion, he uses Squealer's great sense of speach to improve his own power and to weaken Snowball's power. By the time this strategy does not work anymore, he brings up nine dogs which he educated when they were puppies and which function as his personal guard. It is the dogs who finally chase Snowball of the farm. Napoleon then takes over the plans of building the windmill and whenever one of the other animals wonders about it, it is Squealer who anounces that the plans have always been Napoleons ones. Napoleon uses the power the dogs give him to gain more and more power on the farm. A series of confessions start in which Napoleon lets the dogs slaughter any animal which worked together with Snowball or took any other advantage on the farm which was against the commandments or any of the rules Napoleon made up for the farm.

[...]


[1] Roger Fowler, The Language of George Orwell, Houndsmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire, London 1995, page 1

[2] Fowler, page 2

[3] Fowler, page 2

[4] George Orwell, Why I write, page 12

[5] Fowler, Page 4

[6] Fowler, Page 4

[7] Orwell, Why I write, page 15

[8] Chris Baldick, The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms,Oxford, 1990, page 80

[9] Baldick, Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms, page 80

[10] Baldick, ODLT, page 23

[11] George Orwell, Animal Farm, Penguin Books, 1989, page 15

[12] Robert A. Lee, Orwells Fiction. Animal Farm. Notre Dame, Indiana, 1969. Page 123-124.

Excerpt out of 16 pages

Details

Title
George Orwell's Animal Farm
Subtitle
Fable and Satire in a Rural Landscape
College
University of Würzburg  (Neuphilologisches Institut)
Course
Pastoral Novels in English
Grade
1,0
Author
Year
2008
Pages
16
Catalog Number
V92597
ISBN (eBook)
9783638065658
ISBN (Book)
9783638952347
File size
426 KB
Language
English
Tags
George, Orwell, Animal, Farm, Pastoral, Novels, English, Fable, Satire, Rural England
Quote paper
Caroline Korf (Author), 2008, George Orwell's Animal Farm, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/92597

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