Animal farm writing a critical essay question



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ANIMAL FARM

QUESTION

  • Animal Farm represents a revolution that is a failure as a result of those who would benefit most from it. Explore who is ultimately responsible for the downfall of ‘Animal Farm’. Discuss with reference to characterisation, key incidents and theme.

INTRODUCTION

  • Name of authorGeorge Orwell
  • Name of text – Animal Farm
  • Reference to the question – You must explain what your essay is going to do with reference to the question.
  • ‘Animal Farm represents a revolution that is a failure as a result of those who would benefit most from it. Explore who is ultimately responsible for the downfall of ‘Animal Farm’. Discuss with reference to characterisation, key incidents and theme.’

Break the essay up by exploring 3 characters you consider responsible for Animal Farm’s failure.

  • I suggest we look at:
  • Old Major
  • Napoleon
  • Boxer
  • You can choose to discuss other animals if you wish.

Let’s start with Old Major

  • We need to think about the ways in which Old Major was responsible for the downfall of ‘Animal Farm’ and how he would benefit from it.
  • We need to examine this by exploring characterisation (character/personality points that are developed in the novel), key incidents (main events that occur throughout the novel) and theme (theme is a main idea that runs through the novel, in this case power and corruption).

Old Major - Characterisation

  • What is it about Old Major that drives him to want the revolution of ‘Animal Farm’?
    • He is ambitious for the equality of animals, he is a communist.
      • Statement –

STATEMENT

      • “Orwell (when referring to the author always use his surname) uses the technique of characterisation to show how Old Major is responsible for the downfall of ‘Animal Farm’ as he shows us that Old Major is ambitious for the equality of the animals and is a communist, believes in communism.”

QUOTATION

  • Your quotation must support your statement.
        • “The life of an animal is misery and slavery: that’s the plain truth.”
        • “Never listen when they tell you that man and animals have a common interest.”
        • “All animals are equal.”
        • “And among us animals let there be perfect unity, perfect comradeship in the struggle. All men are enemies. All animals are comrades.”

ANALYSIS

  • In your analysis you must explain how your quotation supports your statement with reference to the question.
    • Old Major wants all the animals to be the same.
    • He wants the animals to be friends and all to be equal, no one to be in charge of anyone else.
    • He initiates the idea of revolution and identifies man as the enemy.

ANALYSIS – Refer to/answer question

  • How does all of this make Old Major responsible for the downfall of Animal Farm?
    • It is an impossible concept – all animals can’t be equal. Some are advantaged/disadvantaged by default (ability to read, willingness/ability to learn and belief in the revolution), Old Major did not consider this.

ANALYSIS – Refer to/answer question

  • How could Old Major have benefited from the revolution?
    • He would be a ‘legend’, would be remembered and become an important historical figure.
    • The realisation of his dream

KEY INCIDENTS

  • If technique 1 was characterisation, technique 2 is key incidents (main events that happen in the novel).
    • You need to think of an event in the novel around Old Major or something Old Major is involved in that contributes to the downfall of Animal Farm.
          • Barn Speech (his dream)
          • His death

STATEMENT

  • “A key incident in the novel that involves Old Major in the failure of Animal Farm is his death.”

QUOTATION

  • “Three nights later Old Major died peacefully in his sleep.”
  • You don’t need to say “a quotation which shows this is…”
  • Your quotation can just follow your statement.
  • Remember, your quotation must be in quotation/speech marks.

ANALYSIS

  • Again, your analysis should show how your quotation supports your statement.
    • Tells us he died

ANALYSIS – Refer to/answer the question

  • How does Old Major’s death mean he is responsible for the downfall of Animal Farm?
    • He gave them the idea but wasn’t there to help them interpret the dream properly.
    • They understood the dream differently.

THEME

  • Technique 3 is THEME
  • Although there are several themes in Animal Farm we are looking at POWER AND CORRUPTION
  • So, we are thinking about how power and corruption, in relation to Old Major, contributes to the downfall of Animal Farm

STATEMENT

  • “The theme of power and corruption shows us that Old Major is responsible for the downfall of Animal Farm as he imagines a world where no animal has power but forgets that there will always be corruption and that some animals will be advantaged and/or disadvantaged in relation to the other animals .”

QUOTATION

  • Old Major clearly states that all animals should be equal and no one animal should have power over the others.
  • “no animal must ever tyrannize over his own kind.”
  • However, corruption is something that cannot be avoided, Old Major failed to recognise this.
  • The work of teaching and organising the others fell naturally upon the pigs, who were generally recognized as being the cleverest of the animals.”

ANALYSIS

  • We see here that although Old Major dreams of an ideal where all animals are equal he has not considered that this is unable to function practically. As the pigs are naturally more intelligent than the other animals they are immediately at an advantage and are willing and able to corrupt and take charge of the revolution.

ANALYSIS – Refer to the question

  • As a result of Old Major not fully considering the impact of his dream he contributes to the downfall of Animal Farm by giving the animals the idea in the first place and not telling them about, or recognising the possible problems associated with it.

NAPOLEON

  • You are now focusing on Napoleon – forget about Old Major!
  • Start off by thinking about how Napoleon is responsible for the downfall of Animal Farm.
  • He’s greedy and selfish
  • He wants power and to be the leader
  • He is a dictator
  • He becomes like man
  • He is the new Mr Jones – worse!

Characterisation – technique 1

  • The character point that we are going to look at is his greed and selfishness.
  • STATEMENT – The technique of characterisation is used to show…
  • QUOTATION – (show Napoleon is greedy and selfish) – pages 21 – 22
  • ANALYSIS – Explain why the pigs, particularly Napoleon, taking the milk and apples shows that Napoleon is greedy and selfish. How does this answer the question? How is Napoleon responsible for the downfall of Animal Farm?

KEY INCIDENTS – technique 2

  • The second technique is key incidents. Pick a main event in the novel which shows Napoleon doing something or being involved in something which contributes to the downfall of Animal Farm.
  • Windmill
  • Lives in the house
  • Changes the commandments (would be better for looking at theme)
  • Snowball
  • Boxer being taken away

STATEMENT – The technique…

  • STATEMENT – The technique…
  • Windmill
  • Lives in the house
  • Snowball
  • Boxer being taken away
  • QUOTATION – Must show that Napoleon has done something that in the end contributes to the downfall of Animal Farm
  • ANALYSIS – Explain how your quotation supports your statement and answers the question.

THEME – technique 3

  • Theme of power and corruption
  • STATEMENT – The technique… (changing the commandments)
  • QUOTATION – pages 42, 56 and 76 have useful quotes
  • ANALYSIS – Must show how your quotation supports your statement and how this shows Napoleon was responsible for the downfall of Animal Farm

BOXER

  • First think about the ways in which Boxer contributes to the downfall of Animal Farm.
  • His loyalty to Napoleon (“Napoleon is always right”)
  • He worked himself to the ground
  • He is too innocent, too trusting

CHARACTERISATION – technique 1

  • STATEMENTEither his loyalty or him being innocent and trusting
  • QUOTATION – “Napoleon is always right”
  • ANALYSIS - Explain how your quotation supports your statement and answers the question.

KEY INCIDENTS – technique 2

  • STATEMENT – His illness, he causes it himself
  • QUOTATION – page 69
  • ANALYSIS - Explain how your quotation supports your statement and answers the question.

THEME – technique 3

  • STATEMENT – power and corruption. How Napoleon exploits Boxer. Boxer is too loyal.
  • QUOTATION –
  • STATEMENT - Explain how your quotation supports your statement and answers the question.

CHARACTER

  • If you wish you can add another character to be discussed.
  • Mr Jones
  • Snowball
  • Squealer
  • You can use all three of the characters we have discussed or three of your own or a mixture of ones we have discussed and ones you have made up.
  • Please do not look at more than 4 characters

CONCLUSION

  • Summarise what you have said in the main body of the essay.
  • Refer to/answer the question
  • Who is ultimately responsible? (of the characters you have discussed).
  • “It is obvious that … is mostly responsible for the downfall of Animal Farm because…”
  • “…contributes most to the downfall of Animal Farm because…”


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