More Putin puns than you could ever imagine.
Animal Farm is about violent pigs, traitorous dogs, dim-witted cows, and plenty of other four-legged walking, talking metaphors. This 1945 British novel is a pretty straightforward allegory where each animal represents a different cog in the rickety European political machine, which means this course is all about interdisciplinarity.
In our course, you'll complete creative readings, activities, and projects in order to examine all the tricks George Orwell crammed into his 100 muck-raking pages. That means you'll
- get a crash course in economics and politics.
- be hit over the head with allegory. (Turns out you can write whatever cruel gossip you want by just having a cat or dog say it.)
- finally learn what irony really means. (Alanis Morissette not included.)
- be able to join the club of People Who Name Drop Marxism.
In short, you'll instantly become way better at both literary analysis and political philosophy. Warning: side effects may include suddenly wearing a monocle and talking about "the common man."
Here's a sneak peek at a video from the course. BYOP (bring your own popcorn).
Unit 1. Animal Farm
1 book. 15 lessons. 105 communist-based puns. This unit will walk you through the complicated world of George Orwell's Animal Farm, sty-smell not included.
Sample Lesson - Introduction
Lesson 4: Unfair Stereotype: All Pigs Are Born Leaders
In Chapter 3 of Animal Farm, nearly all the major characters have been introduced. And because we know you love beating dead horses (notBoxer, of course), we're gonna lay it out for you again:
- Some animals represent capitalists (Mr. Jones).
- Some animals represent communists (Old Major).
- Some animals represent leaders (Snowball).
- Some animals represent followers (sheep).
- Some animals represent weird outsiders, the kind who don't vote in presidential elections and cover their trucks with bumper stickers about UFO landings (Benjamin is very cool).
Using choice pieces of characterization early in the book, George Orwell introduces character archetypes like it's his job. (Which is kind of is.)
Archetypes are certain character types that appear in books and other forms of art over and over...and over. Simply put, an archetype is like a stereotype, but truer, more frequent, and more literary. A tough kid from the wrong side of the tracks, adults who just don't understand, and that list above are all archetypes—tried and true.
In Chapter 3, the animals start to reveal their true colors with subtle, archetypical things that Orwell has them do or say. A simple stealing of milk and apples can really reveal a lot about a man. Or a pig.
Sample Lesson - Reading
Reading 1.4: Animal Farm: Chapter 3
First up: read our definition of archetype.
Animal Farm is just about a hundred pages long, so George Orwell falls into archetypes pretty often to quickly establish where each character stands.
- Mollie, when learning about the rebellion against humans, immediately asks if there will be sugar in the new world—she's a ditz archetype, a capitalist crazed by their possessions.
- Orwell revealed Moses's archetype to be "that crazy guy preaching on the sidewalk" through just three or four choice sentences.
We don't want to give away too much, though, so go experience archetype through characterization yourself as you read Chapter 3. After you finish, check out our chapter summary, too.
Sample Lesson - Activity
Activity 1.4a: Relying on Archetypes
As you were reading, we hope that at least once, you shook your head and muttered an unkind thought to yourself: "man, that illiterate cow is classic proletariat."
While it might sound like you're making a stereotype (although a very specific and nerdy one), it's actually an archetype—you're recognizing repeating characteristics and stock characters in a work of literature. And that's what you'll be doing in this lesson.
Step 1: Create a graphic organizer with four columns:
Step 2: Pick five characters you want to investigate, and write their names into the "Characters" column. Mr. Jones? Boxer? That egghead Snowball sure seems interesting...
Step 3: In the "Picture" column, draw an illustration of that animal—you may not be the best artist, but with all these critters popping up, drawing will help you remember which character is which species. If you really don't want to draw it, you can grab a picture from the Interwebs instead. Just make sure it's iconic.
Step 4: In the "Evidence" column, copy a characterizing quote from Chapter 3: an action, a description, or a piece of dialogue that reveals something about that character.
(For example, Orwell writes of Boxer in Chapter 1 that "his answer to every problem, every setback, was 'I will work harder.'" That sure reveals a lot about that horse's commitment to the cause—way more than just "Boxer was a striped-nosed horse" does. Just make sure to grab it from Chapter 3.)
Step 5: In the final "Archetype" column, write the archetype your character seems to represent at this point in the book. Dumb jock? Bourgeois villain? Little old lady? Judge away.
This is one of the only times in your life you'll have to stereotype in school with no consequences. So as you fill out those rows, enjoy this judgmental feeling. It's fleeting.
When you're done, upload your organizer below.
Sample Lesson - Activity
Quiz 1.4b: Animal Farm: Chapter 3 Quiz
- Course Length: 3 weeks
- Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, College
- Course Type: Short Course
- High School
Just what the heck is a Shmoop Online Course?
Common Core Standards
The following Common Core Standards are covered in this course:CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.1