Physical setting

The entire story takes place on a farm in England, close to the city of Willingdon (p. 80) in East Sussex. The farm is called the Manor Farm at the beginning (p. 1) and end of the story (p. 94), though the name is changed to Animal Farm while most of the plot unfolds. The farm is relatively large, containing several buildings and covering a significant amount of land. We get some description of the farm and its surroundings after the animals’ rebellion: "…they made a tour of inspection of the whole farm and surveyed with speechless admiration the ploughland, the hayfield, the orchard, the pool, the spinney.” (p. 14).

Almost all events described in the story are centred on this farm, with only very brief references to events in other areas. For this reason, we know relatively little about the farm’s surroundings, although we learn that it has two neighbouring farms

The first of these is Foxwood, owned by Mr. Pilkington. It is described as “…a large, neglected, old-fashioned farm, much overgrown by woodland, with all its pastures worn out and its hedges in a disgraceful condition.” (p. 24).

The second of these is Pinchfield, owned by Mr. Frederick, which is “… smaller and better kept.” (p. 24).

Animal Farm was published in 1945, but it is unclear whether the time setting is meant to be around this time as well. Even though technological conveniences such as telephones and wireless radio are mentioned, and names of specific British newspapers are brought up (p. 90), all of these existed years before 1945. In addition, the ‘van’ that picks up Boxer is a horse-drawn carriage rather than a car (p. 82), which could point towards slightly earlier periods as well.   

In any case, the specifics of time and place are not particularly relevant for understanding the story, as it is a fable, and fables are usually designed to have messages of a universal nature. However, Orwell also had a very specific political situation (with a specific time-frame) in mind when writing this particular fable, which we explore in detail la...

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