Animal Farm Web Based Unit: By Greg Ott

It's more than just an animal story.

Animal Farm by George Orwell 

Over the next few weeks you will not only be reading a revolutionary novel, but you will be learning how the novel can be used to critically examine a government.  Animal Farm by George Orwell is much more than just the story of how a group of farm animals take over their own farm; it is the story of the Russian Revolution, a story of the corrupting influence of power, and the story of a government that ultimately fell apart as a result of the same problems that its formation  had attempted to solve. 

This is a story that functions on several levels of meaning.  To get below the surface story, one must first have some basic background knowledge of the author and the historical events and personalities that inspired him.  Ultimately, you will be writing an essay examining how one of the characters from the story symbolizes one of history's political players and reflects Orwell's views on the Soviet form of Communism.  In order to do this well, you will need to begin some informal research and  planning before you ever even begin to read the novel.

Prereading Preparation  

View the video below to make yourself aware of some of
the basics of George Orwell's background.

Click the icon to your right to access The Wikipedia overview of the  Russian Revolution. Browse the content and explore several of the links to personalities and conditions that contributed to the revolution and to get a sense for the individuals and  politics that serve as a foundation for the novel. 


You may find the Prezi below helpful as well as it breaks down the revolution into bite size chunks.

Click the icon to the left to introduce yourself to the main characters of Animal Farm.  Read the relationship that each character has to the events and/or people of the Russian Revolution.  You are going to partner-up with one of these characters as we read the novel and will not be permitted to back out of your decision, so make your selection carefully.      View the Wikipedia page for Animal Farm for more related information.                              

Once you have made your decision, you will probably benefit from revisiting the links to the Russian Revolution. You should make yourself the expert on related the historical connections and concepts that are most closely linked to your character.  You may also find the links below helpful in increasing your preparation for experiencing this novel.

Assignment #1
You will need to come prepared to the next meeting of class with at least two questions relating to the background information you researched in preparation for the reading of the novel.  You should also have your character handout completed with the name of the character that you will be focusing on and be ready to briefly share what is symbolized by your character in the novel. 


An electronic version of the novel may be accessed by clicking the cover of the book.  You may find this helpful in organizing passages that reflect Orwell's views on the various aspects of the Russian Revolution and Communism. 

Assignment # 2
As you read the novel you will want to pay close attention to passages that involve your character/partner.  If you encounter a passage that you think reflects Orwell's attitudes about an element of the  Soviet Government that is symbolized by your character, copy it from the electronic text into a Word document titled  by the name of your character.  

Since you will use a minimum of three such passages in your essay, you will need to copy at least five relevant passages.  Make sure that you use your classroom copy of the text to include the actual page number of your passage, and make sure you write a brief paragraph explaining the significance of the passage below each passage you copy. 

Assignment # 3
Upon the completion of the novel, you will use what you have learned about the Russian Revolution, Communist Russia, and George Orwell to write an essay explaining how your character is used by Orwell to symbolize and to reflect his views on an aspect of the former Soviet Union.  Click the Icon at left to access the evaluation rubric that will be used to assess your final product.

Alternative Assignment # 3

Complete a comparison/contrast essay examining the differences between either of the cinematic versions of the story and the original.  Students who select this alternative should make sure to not only examine the relationship between the two stories but examine the historical/political statement that is reflected in those differences.

This assignment will be evaluated with the Informational/Explanatory Evaluation Rubric adapted from the State of Florida.


Alternative Assignment # 3
Propaganda Project

Click here to access project
description and guidelines


Click the icon above for a large scale poster of common logical fallacies.


Navigate through the Prezi Presentation on the left for an overview of Logical Fallacies.



Additional Research Links on
Russian Revolutionary Personalities and Related Institutions.



Soviet History Archive

This page and the study guide resources for the novel have been designed by me (Greg Ott) for the use of my students at Azalea Middle School in St. Petersburg.   Visitors are welcome to use these materials and/or this site to enhance their own study of the novel.  I am always interested in the successful use of these materials and am likewise interested in suggested improvements.  Please direct questions and/or comments to me at  Thank you for stopping by.                             Return to Greg Ott's Homepage