Sorry to interrupt - we’re sure you’re probably in the middle of watching an old VHS (VH-what now?) tape of the 1988 Vice Presidential debate. Or perhaps you’re simply catching up on all those saved DVR recordings of C-Span programming.
All right, so maybe it’s more likely that you’re ramming your head repeatedly into a cactus. It takes a special kind of person to be genuinely interested in all things politics - for the rest of us, it seems tedious and boring and lackluster and monotonous and repetitive and droning... you asleep yet?
But politics are indubitably important. In fact, it is arguably the most vital science for us to wrap our heads around, as it affects everything around us - our education, our health care, our laws, and our quality of fodder for stand-up comedians.
George Orwell understood that, to communicate his strong convictions about the world of politics to the common man, he would need to come down to his level. And rather than simply ‘dumb down’ his arguments, he chose to utilize the tool of humor to make people sit up and take notice.
Animal Farm, which is more warmly received today than when it was first published, was intended to depict a tyrannical dictatorship at its worst, thereby convincing its readers of the dangers inherent in a totalitarian government. However, he used farm animals in place of Stalin and the other targets of his satirical attack to lighten the mood, make the subject matter more accessible, and make his characters seem all the more dim-witted. Turns out that, when you examine their DNA and get down to the biology of it, there aren’t too many differences between a herd of pigs and an autocratic regime.
If you’ve studied for or taken the PSAT, you may be familiar with analogies. Although structured differently when found in the form of a test question, an analogy is something that draws an often metaphorical connection from one thing to another. And that’s really what Animal Farm is - just one big analogy. In addition to the humor aspect of Orwell’s novel, this device also draws the reader in, as it is entertaining and engaging to spot and consider the parallels between the characters in the book and the real-life jackasses they represent.
As you may have noticed, we here at Shmoop have a similar philosophy. We know you’ve had to sit bravely through a number of classes taught by dry, humorless teachers who make time stand still and cause the potentially exciting material they’re teaching to become lifeless and dull. And we know that you’ve also had teachers who jump up and down (or at least seem to), make you laugh (or at least try), and just generally try to get your motor running. If those are the ones where you’ve learned the most - and we suspect that they are - then Animal Farm should be right up your alley.