ANIMAL FARM BACKGROUND NOTES

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1 I. AUTHOR BACKGROUND ANIMAL FARM BACKGROUND NOTES A. George Orwell is the penname or pseudonym for Eric Arthur Blair B. Born Bengal, India in 1903 while it was under Imperialist rule C. His family was of the lower part of the upper-middle class. D. Schooling i. Attended everywhere on scholarship because of his family s financial struggles. ii. Went on to Eton but instead of continuing on with university classes he joined the Indian Imperial Police. iii. His school experiences taught him about the inequality/oppression of social classes E. Imperial Police (Burma, India) i. Gave him a view from the top as he enforced the law over Indian citizens ii. Felt a growing anger toward his own class as an imperialist (continuing the cycle) iii. Resigned after 5 years and returned to London F. London, Paris, and Spain i. London and Paris: works as a teacher, tutor and dishwasher; lives among poor by choice; begins career as a writer; establishes political viewpoint; changes name to protect parents ii. Spain: writes about Spanish Civil War, joins fight; sees the ills of communism G. Why I Write i. Orwell wrote in 1946, every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against Totalitarianism and for Democratic Socialism. H. Most Known Works i. Finished writing Animal Farm in 1943, but wasn t published until 1945 because the Soviet Union was an ally of Britain in WWII ii. Completed 1984 before his death in 1950 due to tuberculosis. II. ANIMAL FARM LITERARY TERMS A. Allegory: a narrative that can be read on more than one level. The events and characters have hidden or symbolic meanings B. Fable: a narrative that attempts to reinforce a truth or lesson by using animals as the main characters C. Parable: a brief story teaching a moral or lesson. D. Satire: attacks a serious issue by presenting it in a ridiculous light or poking fun at it. E. Animal Farm is a literary metaphor of the human condition which brings together the important themes of: politics, truth & falsehood, God and religion, human rights, class conflict F. Animal Farm was written as an allegory of the Russian Revolution and its aftermath.

2 III. ANIMAL FARM HISTORICAL PARALLELS A. Pre-Revolutionary Russia i. Nicholas II became Czar in 1884 a. Believed he was the absolute ruler anointed by God. b. Paid no attention to the Duma ii. Russo-Japanese War (1904) defeat led to political instability iii. Rapid growth of the discontented working class iv. Little help from the countryside because they were mainly impoverished peasants who had no individual land ownership and were dealing with rural famine v. World War I is the last straw for many revolutionaries Revealed the ineptitude and arrogance of the country s aristocratic elite Corrupt military leadership had contempt for ordinary Russian people Average peasants had very little invested in the War B. Russian Revolution i. Began in 1917 as a conflict between the Russian proletariat (working class) and the bourgeoisie (owners/middle class) ii. At this time the country is being run by the Duma iii. The leaders of the revolution are Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin iv. The March Revolution March 12th a. Origins: food riots/strikes b. Duma declared itself a Provisional Government c. Czar ordered soldiers to intervene; instead they joined the rebellion the Czar thus abdicated the throne v. The November Revolution November 17th a. Lenin seized the Winter Palace, the seat of the Provisional Government b. All private property was abolished and divided amongst the peasantry c. The largest industrial enterprises were nationalized d. Start of the Communist Party

3 C. Czar Nicholas II i ii. Last of the Romanovs iii. A poor leader at best, compared to western kings iv. Cruel - sometimes brutal with opponents v. Sometimes kind - hired students as spies to make money vi. After being forced to abdicate, he was executed by the Bolsheviks vii. Represented by Mr. Jones in the novel. D. Karl Marx i. Known as the Father of Communism a. Has a vision of ending the exploitation of man by man b. Wants a classless society and worker owned factories and farms iii. Wrote Das Capital and Communist Manifesto a. Most famous rallying cry for communism is the political slogan from CM: Workers of the world unite! iv. Dies before the Russian Revolution E. Vladimir Lenin i. Lenin adopted Marx s ideas a. believed that the bourgeoisie exploited workers and must therefore be overthrown ii. Involved in the Communist Party a. Leader of the Bolsheviks forces Czar to abdicate throne iii. Established Pravda because he understood the power of simple, powerful slogans iv. Changed Russia s name to the Union of Soverign Socialist Republics (USSR) iv. The pig Old Major represents Vladimir Lenin and Karl Marx F. Leon Trotsky i. Lead the revolution along Lenin and Stalin ii. Pure communist, followed Marx iii. He is an idealist a. One that places a high goal over practical things b. wanted to improve life for all in Russia iv. Noted as a brilliant speaker b. Represented by pig Snowball a. A snowball is symbolic of purity and impermanence G. Joseph Stalin i. Didn t exactly follow Marx s ideas ii. Average speaker, not educated like Trotsky iii. Was ruthless his desire for power; even killing those who would oppose him

4 iv. Used the KGB and propaganda a. Rewrote history and communist theories to benefit himself V. Represented by the pig Napoleon H. Trotsky and Stalin i. After Lenin s death, Trotsky (leader of Red Army) and Stalin (Lenin s mouthpiece) compete for power. ii. Stalin wins iii. Trotsky is exiled, deported, and later in life assassinated a. The exiled Trotsky was still very useful to Stalin as he now had Trotsky to blame for all the problems and difficulties that Russia suffered. I. The Pig Squealer i. Part of Pravda, the propaganda department of the Communist government. a. Means truth ii. Also the name of their Communist newspaper iii. Worked for Stalin to support his image a. Used any lie to convince the people to follow Stalin b. Benefitted from the fact that education was controlled J. The Work Horse Boxer i. Represents the common man of Russia, or those dedicated but tricked supporters a. People believed Stalin because he was Communist b. Many stayed loyal after it was obvious he was a tyrant ii. Considered the hardest working animal on the farm a. Motto: I will work harder K. The Raven Moses i. Tells the animals of a magical place called Sugarcandy Mountain, a satire of heaven. ii. Represents Rasputin, mystic monk with hypnotic powers a. Influenced the Czar and his wife, throwing the government into chaos iii. Also represents religion L. The Dogs a. Marx said it was the Opiate of the people b. Religion was tolerated because it was used to make people not complain and do their work i. Represents the KGB or Secret Police a. Not really police, but forced support for Stalin ii. Used force; often killedentire families for disobedience iii. Totally loyal

5 M. The Farm Owners, Mr. Frederick and Mr. Pilkington i. Mr. Frederick represents German dictator Adolf Hitler ii. Mr. Pilkington represents Prime Minster of England Winston Churchill iii. Stalin negotiated with both Germany and Great Britain N. The Donkey Benjamin i. Represents the skeptical people in and outside of Russia ii. Intellectual and Cynical a. Weren t sure revolution would change anything b. Knew Communism wouldn t work with power ii. Could he represent Orwell? O. The Horse Mollie i. Represents the bourgeoisie, the luxury lovers a. Vain, selfish people b. Went to other countries that offered more for them P. The Sheep i. Represent the masses, who blindly follow the leader Q. The Cat i. Represents sneaky opportunists, who are people who take advantage of others for their own gain IV. PROPAGANDA i. We often think of propaganda as something negative, as in a con or a lie. ii. iii. iv. But propaganda really doesn't have anything to do with positive or negative. It's a technique of persuasion The word propaganda refers to any technique that attempts to influence the opinions, emotions, attitudes or behavior of a group in order to benefit the sponsor. NAME CALLING: Selected words are used to make a product, a person, or a group of people sound bad. Example: My opponent is a slithering snake who tricks everyone into believing that he is good for this country and its goals. GLITTERING GENERALITIES: Adjectives are used in the outstanding form to place the product in the glittering spotlight. Example: Super Nova, the newest car is the finest car on the market because it is the fastest. TRANSFER: A picture of a famous person is used to endorse a product. Example: Looking very athletic and extremely fit, Michael Jordan is standing next to a famous brand of Swift clothing with a smile on his face. BANDWAGONING: Everybody else is buying this product. Jump on the bandwagon.example: Rambler blue jeans are worn by most teenagers. CARD STACKING: It is selective omission. It involves only presenting information that is positive to an idea or proposal and omitting information contrary to it. Example: Fruit Loops in now enriched with calcium so your child get the nutrition he or she needs for strong bones! (Of course, they omit the fact that it s high in sugar and calories!)

6 V. OTHER TERMS TO KNOW A. Socialism- a political theory advocating a society in which there is no private property--the means of production is controlled by the state. B. Totalitarianism- when a government exercises complete control over every facet of society and permits no opposition. C. Capitalism- an economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of goods the economy is determined by competition. D. Fascism- a system of government marked by a totalitarian dictator, nationalism, racism. E. Tyrant a person who exercises power or control cruelly F. Maxim a proverb; fundamental principal or rule of conduct G. Utopia- a place of ideal perfection especially in laws, government and social conditions. H. Bureaucrat- government officials who carry out their jobs by following a narrow, rigid, formal routine.

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