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An analysis of how and why the workers' paradise represented in George Orwell's 'Animal Farm' became a brutal dictatorship. An analysis of Stalin's purges and perversion of values that led to the spread of terror throughout the USSR. The use of startling statistics and black and white images portray the extent to which Stalin was prepared to go to maintain power. The most evocative being cinematic footage of a show trial that resulted in an inevitable guilty verdict and penalty of death. We hear the relevance of this to George Orwell, his first-hand experiences of the wrath of Stalin and why he bore him such a personal grudge that is exposed throughout 'Animal Farm'.
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First broadcast:
16 January 2008

Classroom Ideas

Can be used to evaluate Orwell's use of allegory as a device. In groups, students could make notes, on a mind-map template, of the links between Stalin's dictatorship and the novel. Students explore the term allegory, and discuss how effectively it has been used by Orwell. Students then carry out a discussion entitled: 'human or animal'. Students should discuss what using the animals as an allegory achieves or loses? Would the novel have been more powerful if it had just been a non-fiction critique of Stalin? Should the novel just have been set in the real world with all human characters? Why did the publishers drop the sub-title to the book? Do students agree or disagree with the critic George Soule who stated, "The allegory turned out to be a creaking machine for saying in a clumsy way, things that have been said better directly."

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