Study Guide

Animal Farm by George Orwell in Ecocriticism

Animal Farm by George Orwell

In this exciting tale, some pigs lead a revolt against a drunk farmer who doesn't take good care of his farm. They tout the virtues of animalism in a cool and groovy manifesto… but then the pigs become tyrants themselves.

They kill off other animals and turn human-like: they start wearing pants, drinking alcohol, and being all-around self-centered jerks.

But why do the ecocritics care extra much about this story? Because Orwell's allegory isn't just about the dangers of mob rule and fascism. It can be read as an ecological allegory as well. You want to mess up the natural world? Act like a human being.

Rachel Carson was one of the first eco-activists of the modern age to go deep into why our "civilized" habits are dangerous to the lives of other species and their natural habitats. As she says, we are "living in a world that is just not quite fatal."

Ecocriticism helps us find parallels between Carson's critique of human ecological behavior, particularly the spreading of pesticides, and the frightening transformation of Orwell's pigs as they start to behave like humans.

As soon as they adopt more human-like behaviors and aesthetics, they begin to spread fascism throughout the farm. Now look what we did: we just discovered an excellent eco-metaphor. Fascism is a pesticide. Bam.

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