Animal Farm: Characters Brief Analysis
Animal Farm is a novel written by George Orwell in 1944. It is an allegory of the 1917 Russian Revolution, led by Joseph Stalin. Throughout the book, we are introduced to many characters, and no matter how insignificant they may seem, each and every one represents a person or group of people from the Russian Revolution. This analysis goes over every significant character, explains who/what they symbolize, and their role in the revolution.
Jones was the leader of the manor farm before it was overtaken by the animals. He was a sloppy drunk who often left the animals unfed or in unlivable conditions. He represents Tsar Nicholas II, who also ran out of the country when the Russian revolution began.
The dogs represent the bodyguards of Stalin in the allegory. When they are born, they are taken from Jessie and raised by Napoleon, as rough, fighting beasts. Napoleon raises them to be his guards, giving them orders, while they look up to him as a leader. They escort him everywhere and follow his every order to execute other animals on the farm (the sheep and chickens). They were never raised with Jessie- therefore they lack basic compassion, making them perfect to be killing machines for Napoleon. They also make it impossible for other animals to stand up to Napoleon, for fear of being ripped apart by the dogs.
Old majors character is based on the German political economist Karl Marx. he is the one who really put the idea in the animals’ heads to start a revolution. Just like Karl Marx, Old Major died right before he could see his ideas lived out. The last thing he did before he died was taught the animals the song of the rebellion “Beasts of England”. Another similarity they share is that they were both oppressed before they died- old major by Jones, and Karl Marx by the Russian Empire.
The cat represents the educated in Russia at the time of the revolution. She liked to skimp out on work, which you could compare to the well-educated people doing. They didn’t purposely skip work, but they did avoid all the manual labor that the less educated had to do. However, the cat still liked to reap the rewards from the work, even if she didn’t actually do it. She collected the rations and all the treats that were offered for hard-working animals. Yet she somehow always found a way to be “missing” when she was really needed for the work.
Molly was Jones’ favorite horse. She was the horse that Jones would take to shows, therefore she was treated a lot better than all of the other animals. She had ribbons, a sparkling mane, and got sugar cubes. She was also not completely on board with the rebellion, because she was already happy with her life. In the allegory, she represents the wealthy people in Russia who saw no point in the rebellion because they were already happy with the lives they were living. They had nothing to rebel against.
The pigeons in Animal Farm represent spies. They are sent out by Napoleon and Snowball to not only spread the news of the revolution but also to collect intel on the neighboring farms. They are sent out with the instruction to ‘mingle with other animals’. They are incorporated into the book to represent the rapid spread of propaganda, not in Russia, but in other countries such as Germany, England, and France.
Boxer is by far the strongest animal on the farm. He plays a key role in the building of the windmill and is generally the most hard-working. His personal motto is “I will work harder.” He represents the working class in Russia, always working harder and harder but never getting adequate rewards. Boxer is smart but not intellectual- he could never learn more than 4 letters of the alphabet without forgetting the first few.
One of the most important characters in the book is napoleon. Based on Joseph Stalin, leads the rebellion when it starts to go sideways. He got obsessed with power- he rewrote the commandments until there was only one, contradictory statement: all animals are equal, but some are more equal than others. Similar to Stalin, he is a dictator fueled by only power. We see how Napoleon gave in to the power at the end of the novel when he started to fraternize and join forces with the human leaders of the other farms. He becomes indistinguishable from the humans- which is a metaphor for how corrupted he has become.
Clover, unlike a lot of the other animals, is extremely generous and kind-hearted. We see these traits come out when she blames herself for misremembering the commandments instead of blaming the pigs, who were guilty of changing them for their own personal advantage. She is comforting and warm and symbolizes the women of the revolution. She has full faith in the revolution, but not in Napoleon himself. However, her suspicions about Napoleon being corrupt go unexplored because she lacks the knowledge to fight back. She is one of the many animals on the farm who never learned how to read. She is close friends with a boxer, who similarly, simply lacks the ability to stand up against the pigs.
Squealer is another of napoleons servants. He is not tasked with the same duties as the dogs, his job is much more symbolic. He is the spreader of propaganda on the farm- he takes whatever lies Napoleon tells him about the state of the revolution and spreads them amongst the other animals, giving them false hope. It has always been said amongst the animals that squealer was a fantastic negotiator- they said he could turn black into white. He represents Stalin’s messenger Vyacheslav Molotov, who was given the same task that the squealer was assigned. An example of something that he was able to convince the animals to believe was that the pigs were receiving more food than the other animals because they needed more brainpower, being the brains behind the whole revolution.
Moses was a raven that symbolized the church. He came to the animals and told them about a magical place above the clouds called sugar candy mountain (heaven). This was a place where you never had to work, got all the food and luxuries that you wished for, and was endlessly rewarded for essentially nothing. And the only thing you had to do to get there? Work tirelessly for your remaining days on earth. Whether or not this exists we never find out, but this illusion of a magical place after death is what the animals need to keep them going through the endless labor that they have to do on earth.
Snowball is another of the intelligent pigs that are the intellectual leaders of animal farms in the beginning. He is one of the only animals that have the guts to stand up to Napoleon and his regimes. However, this does not go particularly well for him, as he is chased off the farm by the dogs. He blames all of the farm’s failures on snowball and turns everyone against him. Snowball symbolizes Leon Trotsky, who was also chased out of the country by Lenin’s KGB. Snowball was a firm believer in Old Major’s regimes, just like Trotsky believed Karl Marx’s ideologies.
Muriel is a goat that lives on the farm. The key plot point with Muriel is that she is incredibly smart, ethical, and hardworking but simply does not have the capacity to lead the farm. She chooses not to act on the things she learns. Muriel represents the educated, the lower working class who do have the intelligence and knowledge to lead a nation/ revolution but don’t have the charisma and personality that the pigs have.
The sheep in Animal Farm represent all the population that was swayed by the propaganda. As proven, Napoleon can very easily teach the sheep new chants or give them false information that they eat up. Throughout the whole novel, the sheep are taught the infamous chant four legs good, two legs bad. This is taught to them by Napoleon. However, when Napoleon starts to go back on his commandments, he teaches them the chant four legs good, two legs better. Even though these are two completely contradictory statements, they believe both with no questions.
Benjamin is an old donkey that has lived on the farm for a long time. He is in all ways opposed to the rebellion- he has seen it before and seen how it fails. He firmly believes that no matter who is in charge, life will always be miserable. He represents the older population of Russia, unwilling to change. However, some people think that Benjamin represents Orwell himself. Not on board with communism, but more so just along for the ride.