Animal Farm Characters

Niamh Ryan
Note by , created almost 2 years ago

Improve your knowledge of the key characters within Animal Farm. The study notes presents the key character traits of Napoleon, Snowball, Boxer, Benjamin with examples from the text to illustrate and support arguments.

Niamh Ryan
Created by Niamh Ryan almost 2 years ago
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Page 1

Snowball (A pig)

"Snowball was a more vivacious pig than Napoleon, quicker in speech and more inventive, but was not considered to have the same depth of character." Snowball is a lively pig and talented orator, but he is less shrewd in the ways of power than Napoleon. Represents Leon Trotsky Snowball believes strongly in the ideals of animalism.  However, we see his blatant hypocrisy when he is happy to eat the apples and milk with the other pigs while the other animals went without. "Comrades, do you know who is responsible for this? Do you know the enemy who has come in the night and overthrown our windmill? SNOWBALL!" When Snowball is expelled from the farm by Napoleon it is clear that his political naiveté is no match for Napoleon's cunning. In his absence, Snowball comes to represent an abstract concept of evil Snowball represents Trotsky, who was also exiled by Stalin from the U.S.S.R. His name could come from the fact that Napoleon encouraged fear of Trotsky to grow or snowball after he left the U.S.S.R. It could also refer to Trotsky's belief that a revolution outside the U.S.S.R. could 'snowball' into an international proleteriat revolution. Snowball is ultimately portrayed as having a good character. By doing this, Orwell attempts to counter Stalin's lies and propaganda about Trotsky and to challenge the tendency to 'nationalism' which was prevalent at the time.

Page 2

Squealer (A pig)

"The best known among them was a small fat pig named Squealer, with very round cheeks, twinkling eyes, nimble movements and a shrill voice. He was a brilliant talker, and when he was arguing some difficult point he had a way of skipping from side to side and whisking his tail which was somehow very persuasive. The others said of Squealer that he could turn black into white." Squealer represents the Soviet press, especially the newspaper Pravda.   The Soviet government operated a media monopoly and they used Pravda as a mouthpiece for Communist messages. Squealer helps the pigs to violate the tenets of animalism. He justifies their monopolisation of resources. "Day and night we are watching over your welfare. It is for your sake that we drink that milk and eat those apples." He plays on the animals ignorance and gullibilty with his hollow yet convincing rhetoric Squealer masks the evil intentions of the pigs so that their intentions can be carried out with little resistance or political disarray Squealer has such an iron grip over the animals psyche that he can convince them that their memories are mistaken Boxer believes Napoleon's statement about Snowball's behaviour in the Battle of the Cowshed over his own memories of the event. "Are you certain that this is not something you have dreamed comrades?" (In relation to resolution about human contact) He continually reminds the animals that their lives are better than they would have been under Jones. "Besides, in those days they had been slaves and now they were free, and that made all the difference, as Squealer did not fail to point out." Orwell uses Squealer to explore the ways in which those in power often use rhetoric and language to twist the truth in order to gain and maintain social and political control.

Page 3

Napoleon (A pig)

"Napoleon was a large, rather fierce-looking Berkshire boar, the only Berkshire on the farm, not much of a talker, but with a reputation for getting his own way" Napoleon is a cowardly, shrewd, calculating and selfish pig. Represents Stalin in his constantly changing policies and actions, his secret activities, his intentional deception and manipulation of the populace, and his use of fear tactics and atrocities. His selfishness leads him to build a totalitarian government based on terror and lies that gives him more power over the animals than Mr Jones ever had Napoleon has an insatiable lust for power. He shirks the common good, instead seeking more and more power He trains nine puppies from birth and then uses them as a military force to consolidate his power It is clear that Napoleon prizes power over the ideals of Animalism. As the novel progresses, he becomes a figure in the shadows, increasingly secluding himself. In private, he enjoys a life of huge material luxury. "The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which." Jones has been completely replaced by Napoleon in both his decadent lifestyle and heartless control of the animals. When we see Napoleon fighting with the farmers over the card game, we realise that, in their petty greed,  the animal and capitalist leaders are indistinguishable Napoleon's name may have come from the French dictator, Napoleon Bonaparte Trotsky often likened Stalin to Napoleon. Napoleon was also had a great yearning for power. "No one believes more firmly than Comrade Napoleon that all animals are equal. He would be only too happy to let you make your decisions for yourselves. But sometimes you might make the wrong decisions, comrades, and then where should we be?" Napoleon knows that he is more intelligent than the other animals, and he uses this advantage to ruthlessly exploit them. He manages to establish himself as an honourable figure, who should be respected and venerated. Many of the animals come to equate him with Animalism, and therefore believe that since Animalism is right, then Napoleon must also always be right. "Comrades, do you know who is responsible for this? Do you know the enemy who has come in the night and overthrown our windmill? SNOWBALL!" Just as Stalin demonised Trotsky after his banishment, Napoleon vilifies Snowball, and uses him to legitimise his rule. This is a cowardly move - Snowball is an easy scapegoat, as he cannot defend himself against any of Napoleon's allegations.

Page 4

Mollie (A horse)

"At the last moment Mollie, the foolish, pretty white mare who drew Mr Jones' trap, came mincing daintily in, chewing at a lump of sugar. She took a place near the front and began flirting with her white mane, hoping to draw attention to the red ribbons it was plaited with." Mollie's personality is superficial, adolescent and shallow She craves the attention of human beings Mollie represents the 'petite bourgeoisie' - the women of the middle class They had slightly more money and status than most in Russian society Just as Mollie leaves the farm in search of the comforts to which she is accustomed, they also fled Russia not long after the October Revolution Through Mollie, Orwell intends to criticise Marxism He believes it is naive to say that socialism will suit everyone. Socialism is not perfect, nor is everyone the same. 

Page 5


"Boxer was an enormous beast, nearly eighteen hands high, and as strong as any two ordinary horses put together. A white stripe down his nose gave him a somewhat stupid appearance, and in fact he was not of first rate intelligence, but he was universally respected for his steadiness of character and tremendous powers of work." Boxer is extremely honourable and hard working He symbolises the male working class and peasants of the Soviet Union, also known as the Proleteriat. His name may come from the Boxer Rebellion, which symbolised the beginning of Communism in Red China. Boxer has a penchant for hard work, but he is also hopelessly naive. His maxims sum up his gullibility “I will work harder” “Napoleon is always right” Orwell shows us that even the most loyal and ignorant worker was never safe in Soviet Russia when Boxer is attacked by three dogs during Napoleon's purge of the farm Boxer is not pugnacious, despite his name, but he is as strong, as his name implies. Boxer is a painfully ironic character. He is strong enough to kill another animal, even a human, with a single blow from his hoof, and the dogs cannot manage to overpower him. Still, Boxer lacks the intelligence and the nerve to sense that he is being used. Boxer represents the peasant or working class, a faction of humanity with a great combined strength--enough to overthrow a manipulative government--but which is uneducated enough to take propaganda to heart and believe unconditionally in the government’s cause. One of the most heartbreaking moments of the novel is when Boxer is taken away to the glue factory to be killed. His unconditional belief in the revolution led him to think that its leaders must also be virtuous and wise. It is clear that he learns how false this is when he is just too late to do anything about it. He has no strength left to try to break out of the van - he has spent all his strength in his unending commitment to Animal Farm. Boxer did not like violence, yet he dies a violent and undignified death “I have no wish to take life, not even human life,' repeated Boxer, and his eyes were full of tears.    

Page 6

Benjamin (A donkey)

"Benjamin the donkey... was the oldest animal on the farm, and the worst tempered. He seldom talked, and when he did it was usually to make some cynical remark — for instance he would say that God had given him a tail to keep the flies off, but that he would sooner have had no tail and no flies." Represents those who were aware of Stalin's oppressive policies but did nothing to stop them Benjamin is the only one of the animals, apart from the pigs, that can read fluently  Benjamin is guided by a skeptical philosophy that life will always be difficult and painful “Hunger, hardship and disappointment being, so he sad, the unalterable hardship of life” His scepticism proves to be correct, but also renders him powerless. Benjamin represents the human (and also stereotypically Russian) tendency towards apathy His inaction comes back to haunt him, when Boxer, to whom he was quite "devoted" is killed. Later in his life, Orwell became politically pessimistic and predicted the overtake of the West by totalitarian governments. "None of the animals could form any idea as to what this meant, except old Benjamin, who nodded his muzzle with a knowing air, and seemed to understand, but would say nothing"    

Page 7

Old Major (A boar)

"The prize Middle White boar... He was twelve years old and had lately grown rather stout, but he was still a majestic-looking pig, with a wise and benevolent appearance in spite of the fact that his tushes had never been cut." Represents Vladimir Lenin and Karl Marx, the fathers of Communism "Man is the only real enemy we have. Remove Man from the scene, and the root cause of hunger and overwork is abolished for ever. Man is the only creature that consumes without producing" Old Major's privileged life has allowed him to understand fully the ways that humans exploit and enslave the animals His dream for a socialist utopia is never realised. Marx’s political hypotheses about working-class consciousness and division of labour worked infinitely better in theory than in practice, especially when corrupt leaders twisted them for their personal gain. Old Major quickly became a distant fragment of the past after his death. Orwell believed that Stalin's policies had little connections to the ideology of Marx or Lenin.

Page 8

Clover (A horse)

 "Stout motherly mare approaching middle life, who had never quite got her figure back after her fourth foal" A maternal, hard working cart horse Clover represents the female working class and peasants of the Soviet Union, also known as the Proleteriat. Clover supports the revolution but becomes dismayed by the direction it takes when Napoleon takes charge She has neither the will nor the intelligence to resist  "If she could have spoken her thoughts; it would have been to say that this was not what they had aimed at when they had set themselves years ago to work for the overthrow of the human race" She notices incongruities in Napoleon's policies and suspects the pigs of violating the commandments. However, she repeatedly blames herself for misremembering