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Animal Farm Setting

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  • 0:02 Setting of Animal Farm
  • 0:50 The Time
  • 1:28 The Place
  • 3:47 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Joe Ricker
This lesson will discuss the setting (time and place) and its significance in George Orwell's 'Animal Farm.' We will cover how the setting exemplifies the theme of abuse of power and the allegory of the Russian Revolution.

Setting of Animal Farm

An animal farm would certainly be a wonderful imaginary place if animals could frolic freely without the pressures of labor or harvest forced on them by farmers. To see them in their bliss, chatting away with British accents through pasture fences and chicken wire would certainly acquire millions of views on YouTube.

But that's not the case in George Orwell's farm. His satirical, dystopian novel, Animal Farm, takes place on a farm in England during an undisclosed time. However, the time, location, and events of the novel are satirical of Russia during a major period of Russian political upheaval (1917 - 1945).

Let's see how the setting of this novel helps to draw out the allegory of the Russian Revolution and helps warn readers about abuse of power.

The Time

One aspect of setting is time, or when the story takes place. In Animal Farm, however, time is ambiguous. There is no historical reference actually given in the text, but the reader can surmise that Animal Farm most closely represents the power struggle of early 20th century Russia, between the revolution in 1917 and the rise of communism.

Orwell's intent in creating this ambiguous aspect of setting may be to prevent the narrative from becoming dated, or irrelevant to its readers after several years. Though the allegory is about the rise of communism, the warnings about abuse of power are timeless.

The Place

Another aspect of setting is place, or location of the story. In the novel, what was previously Manor Farm is now Animal Farm, renamed after the animals took control and forced the human out. The farm is set in England in a rural landscape between the Pilkington and Frederick farms, which are thought to represent Capitalist government, specifically England and the United States, and Nazi Germany, respectively.

The farm setting helps illustrate how corruption increases with power, especially in government. Farms demand a significant amount of different work to function properly, much like a country. Orwell, who was English, uses an English farm, as opposed to a Russian one, to perhaps bring the message closer to home.

Much of the activity and meetings between the animals takes place inside the barn, which serves as a meeting place. The rules of the farm have been painted on the walls.

The windmill the animals are constructing is where much of the novel's conflict takes place. In the Battle of the Windmill, neighboring farmers attempt to overthrow the animals. The animals consider it a win, as they drive the humans away, but they have suffered many casualties. In the Battle of Stalingrad, the Russians manage to fight back Hitler's army from the walls of Stalingrad, though with much sacrifice. The windmill, which represents the dream of expanded communism, is destroyed.

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