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Orwell: Animal Farm

7. The End of Decency

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About this Lecture


In this module, we think about the idea of 'decency' in Orwell's work and in Animal Farm in particular, focusing in particular on: (i) the figure of the Italian militiaman who appears at the end of 'Looking Back on the Spanish War' (1942?) – "Shall people like that Italian soldier be allowed to live the decent fully human life which is now technically achievable, or shan't they?"; (ii) Orwell's suspicions of revolution and its relation to decency ("Revolutionary loyalty may mean saying goodbye to common decency"); (iii) Old Major's speech on the possibility of a decent life after the overthrow of the human race; and (iv) the treatment of Boxer, the most hard-working and decent of the animals.


In this course, Dr Nathan Waddell (University of Birmingham) explores George Orwell's Animal Farm. In the first module, we think about Animal Farm in the context of Orwell's life and career, before turning in the second and third modules to consider the novel in the context of the Spanish Civil War and Soviet Russia, respectively. In the fourth module, we think about what kind of story Animal Farm is, while in the fifth module, we consider the novel's narrative voice. In the sixth module, we think about the themes of tyranny and circularity in the novel, before turning in the final module to consider the concept of 'decency' in Orwell's work in general and in Animal Farm in particular.


Dr Nathan Waddell is Senior Lecturer in Early Twentieth-Century and Modernist Literature at the University of Birmingham. He teaches and researches early twentieth-century literature, with a core emphasis on the life, work, and controversies of the painter and writer Wyndham Lewis (1882-1957). His recent publications include Moonlighting: Beethoven and Literary Modernism (2019) and (as co-editor with J. Greenberg) 'Brave New World': Contexts and Legacies. (2016).

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Waddell, N. (2021, May 12). Orwell: Animal Farm - The End of Decency [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Waddell, N. "Orwell: Animal Farm – The End of Decency." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 12 May 2021,