Animal farm by George Orwell: Essay Writing Hints
Animal Farm is a British novella by George Orwell that is taught in numerous high school and college English classes. For decades, students have been called upon to analyze the text and provide insights into its use of metaphor, irony, satire, and political commentary, and for just as long, students have languished and struggled to accomplish this task.
Orwell’s classic book is relatively short, but it is dense with meaning and historical importance. It is also a fantastic entry point into the use of metaphor and irony in a piece of literature. When asked to write an essay making sense of the book’s numerous themes and literary elements, many students struggle and do not know where to begin. Here are some hints for undertaking the essay, and some factors to consider within the book itself before you embark on writing about it.
Consider the Historical Period
Pay close attention the historical period in which the book was written. You may need to do some external research for this part, but it will be well worth it. Ask yourself: what was going on in Europe during the period that this book was penned by Orwell? What was the main source of international conflict or political conflict? Also relevant, what had just happened in recent history?
Authors frequently are influenced by the social, political, and international contexts in which they are writing, or in which they grew up before they became a writer. If you are aware of these influences and speak to them in your essay, your instructor will be impressed. Try to locate the similarities between the historical context and the content of the book.
Consider Orwell’s Background
An author’s life influences the work he or she produces. This is especially true of George Orwell. Before reading his book, consider studying what he did for a living before becoming an author. Ask yourself: what were his life experiences? What were his struggles, and what did he learn in his work? Why do you think someone with his background decided to become a writer? And why this book?
Try to guess why someone like George Orwell would be moved to write a book about a farm overrun by pigs. Do not be afraid to make some educated guesses. Also consider what Orwell might have learned or encountered in the historical context in which he grew up.
Consider the Power of Metaphor
Animal Farm is frequently taught because it is a sterling example of the use of metaphor. Do not take a single thing at face value in this book. Instead, ask yourself what the different animals represent. Do the pigs remind you of anything? What could the other animals represent? What does life on the farm resemble?
Take the historical, political, social, and personal background into account and see if you can figure out a valid interpretation of the metaphors in the book. Remember, there is no one right answer, so go for it!