George Orwell’s Animal Farm means a great deal to me and this short tale will explain why. It is about when I was a teacher in London.
First of all I highly recommend ‘Animal Farm’ and I rather envy you if you haven’t read it yet because you are in for a real treat. It is a brilliantly told, very clever, political fable.
Orwell wrote it just after World War II (first published 1945), and it is a satirical story about totalitarianism. This infamous farm represents the State. Very briefly this is a story about the abuse of power. Farmyard animals are trying to organize their lives after rebelling against their oppressive master, Farmer Jones, under the leadership of the pigs, and…
“The work of teaching and organizing the others fell naturally upon the pigs, who were generally recognized as being the cleverest of the animals.”
At first the animals cope extremely well with their freedom and use their life skills such as working together and fairness quite admirably. But soon the pigs start to have other ideas about how the farm should be run.
They start to regard themselves as cleverer than the others, even superior, and before you know it they catapult themselves to the very top of the social ladder.
George Orwell shows us how good intentions can so very easily turn from stirring revolution to repugnant tyranny!
I worked in a school called George Orwell
This great book is part of the English Literature syllabus in British schools and has therefore been read by literally thousands of kids. Not all of them judge it by its political argument, however, and often it is taught as a simple tale about animals in a farm, but that’s a different and quite depressing story!
My experience of this book runs deeper than this because the London school I worked in was actually called ‘George Orwell’.
It was an exciting place to work being a large, co-educational, mixed-ability, multicultural, school with children who spoke 45 different languages! And, as a staff team, we had a constant struggle trying to work out who the pigs were!
It was also a challenging place to work and hierarchy reigned. So ‘Animal Farm’ became a standing joke. (So did Orwell’s ‘1984’ for that matter!) We kept ourselves amused by comparing staff to animals in the book that represented their nature or their status in the school e.g. pigs, horses, or whatever.
This famous quote from the book sums us all up really neatly:
“All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.”
I often got the feeling that Orwell was up there looking down on us wondering when we were going to pull together and get the very important job of teaching the kids done!
In the end the school was closed down! The pigs cut and ran….
George Orwell’s Animal Farm is brilliant!
As Few Facts About George Orwell
Eric Arthur Blair (25 June 1903 – 21 January 1950) was born in India. When he was one his parents took him to England. He never returned to India.
He had other pen names, but he favoured Orwell because it was very English, and came from the River Orwell.
He attended Eton school but did not go to university – instead he went to Burma and became a policeman. While there he did a little writing, had his knuckles tattooed, and grew his very dashing moustache.
He was an atheist but was also into the occult. He became interested in this when he was at Eton school.
He married Eileen O’Shaughnessy 1936 and they made their living by running a small general store. They grew vegetables in the garden and had some chickens and a goat named Muriel – it was here that he thought up Animal Farm.
Before his first breakthrough as a writer, Orwell had various odd jobs. Among other things he worked as a teacher, and in a book shop in north London. There is blue plaque commemorating this, on the wall of the shop in Hampstead. It is now a Hamburger restaurant.
His first big writing assignment was The Road to Wigan Pier, which was as about the plight of the miners in northern England.
He stopped his other jobs in the 1940s and became a full time writer.
A few samples of this wonderful book
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