Animal Farm

In this study guide we will help you analyse the novel Animal Farm by George Orwell. You can also find detailed summaries of both the entire novel and its individual chapters, as well as inspiration for interpreting the text and putting it into perspective.

This study guide is based on the Penguin Books edition of the novel from 2008.

Presentation of the novel

Title: Animal Farm (1945)
Author: George Orwell
Genre: Novel

Eric Arthur Blair (1903-1950) was a British journalist, literary critic and author. He is most well-known under his pseudonym George Orwell.

Orwell had an eventful life. In his youth he was a law enforcement officer in Burma (today known as Myanmar), which was part of the British Empire at the time. Later on he participated in the Spanish Civil War and was heavily wounded by a shot in the neck. During the Second World War, Orwell was declared unfit for military service, but he still played an active part on the home front, covering the war from a journalist’s perspective.

Orwell was diagnosed with tuberculosis in 1947. In 1950 he died of this disease, only 46 years old.

Today, Orwell is considered one of the most influential British authors of the 20th century, and both his novels, non-fiction books and essays remain popular. Most people regard the science-fiction novel Nineteen Eighty-Four as his masterpiece, and many still consider it highly relevant for understanding the political realities of the modern world.

Animal Farm is also one of Orwell’s important works, however, and in many ways it covers the same themes as the later Nineteen Eighty-Four - especially in its descriptions of the way people in power use propaganda, threats and manipulation to keep citizens under control.  


You can read an excerpt from our study guide below:

The power of propaganda

An important theme in Animal Farm is connected to the power of political propaganda. Even though their condition becomes more and more terrible, the efficient propaganda delivered by Squealer in both speech and text usually manages to convince the other animals that they are actually well off, and effectively prevent any real attempts to rebel against Napoleon and the pigs.

The novel also shows the way propaganda can be used to alter the history of a nation, changing details to fit the story that the government wants people to believe. Creative rewriting of history is a common propaganda technique in dictatorships, and even today examples of this can be found in some states. By showing an extreme version of how history can be altered by governments, the reader is also led to consider how the way in which historical events are perceived can be subtly influenced by the political ideology of the current government.

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Animal Farm

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