He was born in India, then he was taken to England by his mother.
Childhood: He was educated at Eton. It was a top college, it helped develop his personality but there was also a sense of oppression and formality that he could not stand.
Then he decided to join the Indian police--> in Burma. Negative experience, same sense of oppression.
Poverty experiences-->He went back to England and he experienced poverty as he decided to live as a poor. He made himself a homeless for almost a year because he wanted to discover how they live and what the institutions do. He felt an emotional identification with the working class despite his middle class background.
He moved to Paris and he experienced poverty also there for 2 years.
He started writing under the English name of George and surname of Orwell, that was the name of a river he was fond of.
Wars-->He fought in Spanish civil war and that was the period of the conversion to socialism.
WWII broke out and he moved to London.
1945- Animal Farm
1949- Nineteen Eighty-Four
He wasn't just a novelist, also a journalist, essayist and a political author.
Aim: initially was to inform, reveal facts and draw conclusions. He takes side in front of what he writes.
• Plain colloquial language, everybody can read this because it is to inform everybody.
• Full of mockery, satire, wit.
• There is always a message.
Dickens and Wells
Animal Farm (1945)
• It is an anti utopian novel disguised as an animal fable, a "fairy story".
• It was not easy to have it published because of the references to reality were clear. When he managed to have it published it became a success.
• It’s the story of a rebellion against Mr Jones’s dictatorship and its failure. This rebellion’s outcome is another dictatorship: Napoleon’s one. In this way George Orwell manages to describe how a rebellion led by power-hungry people leads by incremental steps to a “change of masters”.
1) "to write a satire on the Russian Revolution"
2) He had a wider aim which was to attack all totalitarianisms and dictatorships.
Napoleon: the dictator
Squealer: the propagandist
Boxer: the horse, loyal, obedient till the very end when he is sent away, hard worker
Benjamin: skeptical, not easily manipulated
Old Major- Lenin + Marx
Mr. Jones- Czar Nicolas II, described as a farmer who neglects his farm.
Napoleon- Stalin, use of violence to maintain his power.
Why does Orwell uses animals to talk about the Russian Revolution?
Instruments of power:
Violence: represented by the dogs and the phantom of Snowball. The dogs create an atmosphere of terror.
Power of language: The embodiment of the power of language is Squealer, because he convinces the other animals every time a commandment is altered, he justify Napoleon's behaviour.
• Squealer's speeches usually finish with a threat: Mr.Jones might come back. This is based on fear upon the animals.
• Use of future--> things will be better + juxtaposition with the past when Mr. Jones was there. Utopian perspective.
• After the attack by Frederick many animals died and were wounded. The windmill was destroyed. Therefore the morale was low but they didn't despair, why? There are elements such as celebrations, marching, singing: all elements to keep the morale high. propaganda, distortion of reality. The animals are manipulated through these elements.
Chapter 1: Old Major's speech
Speech about a prophetical dream he had about equality.
Old Major addresses all the animals by calling them “Comrades”, which immediately establishes a connection with them
Then it is used to encourage the animals to take action, not anymore to introduce.
He presents them with the truth about the lives of his animals which are “miserable, laborious, and short”. Then Major identifies an Man as an enemy who consumes without producing. He encourages the animals to do everything they can to make this dream come true and to overthrow Man. Major then states the principles of Animalism which become later the Seven Commandments.
Old Major dies. The work of teaching and organizing falls to two pigs named Napoleon and Snowball. The Rebellion takes place: One day, Mr. Jones forgets to feed the animals and the cows break into the store shed and the animals begin to eat. Mr. Jones and his men discover this but the animals attacks the men.
Snowball replaces the inscription “Manor Farm” with the “Animal Farm.” and paints these commandments on the barn:
1 Whatever goes upon to legs is an enemy
2 Whatever goes upon four legs, or has wings, is a friend
3 No animal shall wear clothes
4 no animal shall sleep in a bed
5 no animal shall drink alcohol
6 no animal shall kill any other animal
7 ALL ANIMALS ARE EQUAL
Everyone see them, the law is there but it is not so unalterable--> first sign: the milk disappear. Dream of equality is Jeopardized (attacked).
After Snowball expulsion Napoleon prohibits meeting on Sundays. No more debates, no more freedom. Napoleon making a decision and Squealer's intervention to change the animals' natural reactions. Outcome: Boxer says that if Napoleon says it, it is right.
Squealer explains that the windmill is Napoleon's creation, but it's not true.
Contact between animals and humans, they decide to engage trades with the help of the human beings--> 1st commandment is attacked
Then the animals decide to go to the house and sleep in a bed--> 4th commandment is attacked. It is slightly distorted by just adding "with sheets". It means that they can sleep without sheets--> power of language
Execution of the sheeps--> they are purged: action carried out in any dictatorship, in order to get rid of the opponents. another commandment is attacked --> altered in chapter 8: no animal shall kill another animal "without cause".
The battle of the windmill was a defeat but now it becomes a celebration. How? Through the power of language. After this they start rebuilding the windmill.
The animals believe that there wasn't a reduction of food but just a "readjustment", squealer uses this word--> they are brain washed. They can't remember how it was before Animal Farm but they are convinced that of course it was a lot worse than now.
More celebrations: to keep the morale high.
The sheep keep on singing "2 legs bad, 4 legs good" until chapter 10 when this commandment is altered.
most important, it depicts the climax of the transformation from Animal Farm back again to Manor Farm. Betrayal of all the ideals and complete extra listens of the new dictatorship. The Animal Farms is brought back to Manor Farm.
Pigs are humanized:
-The pigs start walking on their hind legs.
-The pigs start drinking whiskey
-they are as corrupted as men
The other animals: time has passed, only a few animals remember the rebellion (Clover, Benjamin, Moses and a number of pigs).
They were hungry, but never gave up hope, because they had a sense of imperishable pride of being members of Animal Farm. Dramatic contrast between the animals hope and the definite betrayal that is going to happen.
Benjamin is the only one truly aware of the animal real situation: the unalterable law of life. This expression is also used when the Commandments were first inscribed in Chapter 2.
The completion of the windmill puts an end to Snowball's dream for a better life (power) because it was built for other reasons.
Wall--> new single commandment saying: all animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.
Mr Pilkington's speech: he congratulates the pigs.
• Abolition of the word Comrades because it is a sing of equality
• The burial of old major's skull
• The removal of the symbols of the Rebellion
Final scene: argument between Napoleon and Mr. Pilkington. We see it from the animal perspective: they seem not to distinguish human from pigs anymore.
Moral of the story: everything has become as corrupt as the original situation--> change of Master