This GCSE English Literature quiz will challenge you on context in George Orwell's Animal Farm. A text’s context refers to the environment in which it was written. Context includes the political and social environment, as well as the time and geographical location in which the author was writing. If this combination sounds familiar, it is because these are the same specific elements which we discuss when we talk about setting, too. Where setting refers to these aspects of a text’s created, fictional world, context refers to these aspects of the author’s own world. Remember too that issues and events from the author’s past might have as much effect on a text as those occurring contemporaneously. The personal beliefs of an author also contribute to the context since they are likely to have had an effect on the text.
Learning about the context of a fictional work will enable you to develop an insight into many of the important influences which helped to shape the text. As you will know, the relationship between context and meaning is not simple and straightforward. Sometimes context provides useful information to bear in mind as you read and think about a piece of writing. At other times, context is much more important, and Animal Farm is a text which really benefits from a good knowledge of its context. George Orwell was a highly political author, as well as one who wished to educate and warn others about the dangers he perceived.
This text works on multiple levels. You can read it as a pure depiction of tyranny and the betrayal of hope. If you wish to understand the satire, however, you will need to know some history, so you will have paid close attention in lessons. How much do you know about historic dictatorships? What do you know about George Orwell’s life and times? The more you know about the events upon which the novella is based, the more you will understand this text. Some of the shocking things which happen to the animals, and which can seem unrealistic, had actually happened in more than one country and on more than one occasion.
Research the context of George Orwell’s Animal Farm, remembering everything you have learned in English and (perhaps) history lessons, then try these questions to see how much you know.