This GCSE English Literature quiz challenges you on setting in Animal Farm by George Orwell. Setting in a text includes the location and the time in which the events take place. Texts can have several settings, of course, since events can occur in very different places and even times. Specific buildings and spaces are also settings within the primary setting. Events happening in the background, even when these are only alluded to by characters, also constitute part of a literary text’s setting, as do political and social issues. The wider fictional world is referred to as context (be careful not to confuse this with the author’s real-life context). Atmosphere, another key element of setting, will often change multiple times in a text.
How well can you visualise the setting or settings of your text?
What effect does each setting have? Authors show their characters being affected by the world in which they live. The reported thoughts, behaviour and dialogue of the characters will show the effect political or social events have on them.
Animal Farm has some highly-specific details about its setting, although it is vague in many ways, befitting its original designation as a fairy tale. It is relatively easy to envisage the farmhouse and the landscape, but somewhat more difficult to determine the time, or the number of years over which the events occur. This adds to the impression that the allegory applies to repeated events over the past as well as those which might take place in future.
Geographical elements, including region, country, environment, landscapes and buildings also constitute the setting of a text. Weather, too, plays a role (think about the change of seasons in Animal Farm, for example). How does the interaction of characters with their environment create meaning in the text?
Comparing the time a text is set with when it was written is a useful exercise. Do these times differ? What might be a reason for an author to choose to set a text in the past, present or future? How does our understanding of the story depend on such decisions? In the case of Animal Farm, you might also like to consider why the text is set in a country different from the one whose political turmoil it satirises.
Answer the questions below on setting in Animal Farm.