Genre of Animal Farm

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  • 0:00 Genres
  • 0:17 ''Animal Farm'' as an Allegory
  • 2:03 ''Animal Farm'' as a Fable
  • 2:47 ''Animal Farm'' as a Satire
  • 4:19 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Christina Boggs

Chrissy has taught secondary English and history and writes online curriculum. She has an M.S.Ed. in Social Studies Education.

In what genre is George Orwell's 'Animal Farm?' Is it an allegory? Is it a fable? Is it a satire? Who says it has to be just one of the three? This lesson explores each of the three literary genres that can be applied to 'Animal Farm.'

Genres

The genre, or category, of a book can tell you a lot about the author's purpose for writing it. For example, the novel Animal Farm falls within three literary genres that give readers little glimpses into the thoughts, opinions, and beliefs of its author, George Orwell.

Animal Farm as an Allegory

First and foremost, Animal Farm is generally considered an allegory. An allegory is a story that includes settings, characters, and events that are meant to represent or parallel something with much deeper meaning. Take a moment to think about the settings and characters in Animal Farm. The story takes place on a farm. On the farm, there are a handful of bossy and controlling pigs, a few horses, a couple of dogs, a raven, and some humans. What deeper meaning could this story possibly have?

Orwell's barnyard story is actually allegory for the Russian Revolution and the rise of communism that took place in Russia beginning in 1917. Manor Farm, the setting, represents the entire country of Russia, while various characters have different meaning in the story.

Take, for example, the pig revolutionaries. Old Major, the idealistic but old boar, is an allegory for Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin. Like the communist thinkers, Old Major has some ideas that sound solid, but he's not around long enough to see them all the way through. The pig Napoleon represents Joseph Stalin, Lenin's successor in Russia who used fear and intimidation to rise to power, much like Napoleon uses his dogs to get his way on Manor Farm. Characters like Boxer represent not just one person but people in Russia as a whole. Boxer symbolizes the faithful followers of men like Lenin and Stalin who don't really understand what's happening in government. As a result, they become victims of tyranny.

George Orwell uses his animal characters to reflect the major people and events that shaped Russian politics. His use of allegory is an effective way of explaining historical events and major themes, like the evils of tyranny and human nature, that entertains and engages the reader.

Animal Farm as a Fable

You're probably familiar with stories like 'The Tortoise and the Hare' and 'The Ant and the Grasshopper', but did you know that they were fables? A fable is a story with talking animals that helps teach readers a moral or lesson. Orwell's Animal Farm can be considered a fable, based on this definition.

Orwell's story is not very complex, and the messages it communicates to readers are pretty simple. This easy-to-read format makes the point of the story very accessible to his audience. From Napoleon's actions, Orwell really drives home the point that greed and power can lead a person (or a pig!) to do things that are damaging to society as a whole. Meanwhile, characters like Boxer remind readers that it's important to stay informed about what's happening in the world around them.

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