Mr. Jones: Mr. Jones is Orwell’s chief (or at least most obvious) villain in Animal Farm. Of course Napoleon is also the major villain, however much more indirectly. Orwell says that at one time Jones was actually a decent master to his animals. At this time the farm was thriving. But in recent years the farm had fallen on harder times (symbol of the world-wide Great Depression of the 30’s) and the opportunity was seen to revolt. The world-wide depression began in the United States when the stock market crashed in October of 1929. The depression spread throughout the world because American exports were so dependent on Europe. The U.S. was also a major contributor to the world market economy. Germany along with the rest of Europe was especially hit hard. The parallels between crop failure of the farm and the depression in the 1930’s are clear. Only the leaders and the die-hard followers ate their fill during this time period.
Mr. Jones symbolizes (in addition to the evils of capitalism) Czar Nicholas II, the leader before Stalin (Napoleon). Jones represents the old government, the last of the Czars. Orwell suggests that Jones (Czar Nicholas II) was losing his “edge.” In fact, he and his men had taken up the habit of drinking. Old Major reveals his feelings about Jones and his administration when he says, “Man is the only creature that consumes without producing. He does not give milk, he does not lay eggs, he is too weak to pull the plough , he cannot run fast enough to catch rabbits. Yet he is lord of all the animals. He sets them to work, he gives back to them the bare minimum that will prevent them from starving and the rest he keeps for himself.”
So Jones and the old government are successfully uprooted by the animals. Little do they know, history will repeat itself with Napoleon and the pigs.
Old Major: Old Major is the first major character described by Orwell in Animal Farm. This “purebred” of pigs is the kind, grand fatherly philosopher of change— an obvious metaphor for Karl Marx. Old Major proposes a solution to the animals’ desperate plight under the Jones “administration” when he inspires a rebellion of sorts among the animals. Of course the actual time of the revolt is unsaid. It could be the next day or several generations down the road. But old Major’s philosophy is only an ideal.
After his death, three days after the barn-yard speech, the socialism he professes is drastically altered when Napoleon and the other pigs begin to dominate. It’s interesting that Orwell does not mention Napoleon or Snowball anytime during the great speech of old Major. This shows how distant and out-of-touch they really were; the ideals old Major proclaimed seemed to not even have been considered when they were establishing their new government after the successful revolt. It almost seemed as though the pigs fed off old Major’s inspiration and then used it to benefit themselves (a interesting twist of capitalism) instead of following through on the old Major’s honest proposal. This could be Orwell’s attempt to dig Stalin, who many consider to be someone who totally ignored Marx’s political and social theory.
Using old Major’s seeming naivety, Orwell concludes that no society is perfect, no pure socialist civilization can exist, and there is no way to escape the evil grasp of capitalism. (More on this in the Napoleon section.) Unfortunately when Napoleon and Squealer take over, old Major becomes more and more a distant fragment of the past in the minds of the farm animals.
Moses: Moses is perhaps Orwell’s most intriguing character in Animal Farm. This raven, first described as the “especial pet” of Mr. Jones, is the only animal who doesn’t work. He’s also the only character who doesn’t listen to Old Major’s speech of rebellion.
Orwell narrates, “The pigs had an even harder struggle to counteract the lies put about by Moses, the tame raven. Moses, who was Mr. Jones’s especial pet, was a spy and a tale-bearer, but he was also a clever talker. He claimed to know of the existence of a mysterious country called Sugarcandy Mountain, to which al animals went when they died. It was situated somewhere up in the sky, a little distance beyond the clouds, Moses said. In Sugarcandy Mountain it was Sunday seven days a week, clover was in season all the year round, and lump sugar and linseed cake grew on the hedges. The animals hated Moses because he told tales and did no work but some of them believed in Sugarcandy Mountain, and the pigs had to argue very hard to persuade them that there was no such place.”
Moses represents Orwell’s view of the Church. To Orwell, the Church is just used as a tool by dictatorships to keep the working class of people hopeful and productive. Orwell uses Moses to criticize Marx’s belief that the Church will just go away after the rebellion. Jones first used Moses to keep the animals working, and he was successful in many ways before the rebellion. The pigs had a real hard time getting rid of Moses, since the lies about Heaven they thought would only lead the animals away from the equality of socialism. But as the pigs led by Napoleon become more and more like Mr. Jones, Moses finds his place again. After being away for several years, he suddenly returns and picks up right where he left off. The pigs don’t mind this time because the animals have already realized that the “equality” of the revolt is a farce. So Napoleon feeds Moses with beer, and the full-circle is complete.
Orwell seems to offer a very cynical and harsh view of the Church. This proves that Animal Farm is not simply an anti-communist work meant to lead people into capitalism and Christianity. Really Orwell found loop-holes and much hypocrisy in both systems. It’s interesting that recently in Russia the government has begun to allow religion again. It almost seems that like the pigs, the Kremlin officials of today are trying to keep their people motivated, not in the ideology of communism, but in the “old-fashioned” hope of an after-life.
Snowball: Orwell describes Snowball as a pig very similar to Napoleon— at least in the early stages. Both pigs wanted a leadership position in the “new” economic and political system (which is actually contradictory to the whole supposed system of equality). But as time goes on, both eventually realize that one of them will have to step down. Orwell says that the two were always arguing. “Snowball and Napoleon were by far the most active in the debates. But it was noticed that these two were never in agreement: whatever suggestion either of them made, the other could be counted to oppose it.” Later, Orwell makes the case stronger. “These two disagreed at every point disagreement was possible.”
Soon the differences, like whether or not to build a windmill, become too great to deal with, so Napoleon decides that Snowball must be eliminated. It might seem that this was a spontaneous reaction, but a careful look tells otherwise. Napoleon was setting the stage for his own domination long before he really began “dishing it out” to Snowball. For example, he took the puppies away from their mothers in efforts to establish a private police force. These dogs would later be used to eliminate Snowball, his arch-rival.
Snowball represents Trotsky, the arch-rival of Stalin in Russia. The parallels between Trotsky and Snowball are uncanny. Trotsky too, was exiled, not from the farm, but to Mexico, where he spoke out against Stalin. Stalin was very weary of Trotsky, and feared that Trotsky supporters might try to assassinate him. The dictator of Russia tried hard to kill Trotsky, for the fear of losing leadership was very great in the crazy man’s mind. Trotsky also believed in Communism, but he thought he could run Russia better than Stalin. Trotsky was murdered in Mexico by the Russian internal police, the NKVD-the pre-organization of the KGB. Trotsky was found with a pick axe in his head at his villa in Mexico.
Napoleon: Napoleon is Orwell’s chief villain in Animal Farm. The name Napoleon is very coincidental since Napoleon, the dictator of France, was thought by many to be the Anti-Christ. Napoleon, the pig, is really the central character on the farm. Obviously a metaphor for Stalin, Comrade Napoleon represents the human frailties of any revolution. Orwell believed that although socialism is good as an ideal, it can never be successfully adopted due to uncontrollable sins of human nature. For example, although Napoleon seems as first to be a good leader, he is eventually overcome by greed and soon becomes power-hungry. Of course Stalin did too in Russia, leaving the original equality of socialism behind, giving himself all the power and living in luxury while the common peasant suffered. Thus, while his national and international status blossomed, the welfare of Russia remained unchanged. Orwell explains, “Somehow it seemed as though the farm had grown richer without making the animals themselves any richer–except, of course for the pigs and the dogs.”
The true side of Napoleon becomes evident after he slaughters so many animals for plotting against him. He even hires a pig to sample his food for him to make certain that no one is trying to poison him. Stalin, too, was a cruel dictator in Russia. After suspecting many people in his empire to be supporters of Trotsky (Orwell’s Snowball), Stalin systematically murders many.
By the end of the book, Napoleon doesn’t even pretend to lead a socialist state. After renaming it a Republic and instituting his own version of the commandments and the Beasts of England, Comrade Napoleon, he quickly becomes more or less a dictator who of course has never even been elected by the animals.
Boxer: The name Boxer is cleverly used by Orwell as a metaphor for the Boxer Rebellion in China in the early twentieth century. It was this rebellion which signaled the beginning of communism in red China. This communism, much like the distorted Stalin view of socialism, is still present today in the oppressive social government in China. Boxer and Clover are used by Orwell to represent the proletariat, or unskilled labor class in Russian society. This lower class is naturally drawn to Stalin (Napoleon) because it seems as though they will benefit most from his new system. Since Boxer and the other low animals are not accustomed to the “good life,” they can’t really compare Napoleon’s government to the life they had before under the czars (Jones). Also, since usually the lowest class has the lowest intelligence, it is not difficult to persuade them into thinking they are getting a good deal.
The proletariat is also quite good at convincing each other that communism is a good idea. Orwell supports this contention when he narrates, “Their most faithful disciples were the two carthorses, Boxer and Clover. Those two had great difficulty in thinking anything out for themselves, but having once accepted the pigs as their teachers, they absorbed everything that they were told, and passed it on to the other animals by simple arguments.”
Later, the importance of the proletariat is shown when Boxer suddenly falls and there is suddenly a drastic decrease in work productivity. But still he is taken for granted by the pigs, who send him away in a glue truck. Truly Boxer is the biggest poster-child for gullibility.
Squealer: Squealer is an intriguing character in Orwell’s Animal Farm. He’s first described as a manipulator and persuader. Orwell narrates, “He could turn black into white.” Many critics correlate Squealer with the Pravda, the Russian newspaper of the 1930’s. Propaganda was a key to many publications, and since their was no television or radio, the newspaper was the primary source of media information. So the monopoly of the Pravda was seized by Stalin and his new Bolshevik regime.
In Animal Farm, Squealer, like the newspaper, is the link between Napoleon and other animals. When Squealer masks an evil intention of the pigs, the intentions of the communists can be carried out with little resistance and without political disarray.
Squealer is also thought by some to represent Goebbels, who was the minister of propaganda for Germany. This would seem inconsistent with Orwell’s satire, however, which was suppose to metaphor characters in Russia.
Mollie: Mollie is one of Orwell’s minor characters, but she represents something very important. Mollie is the animal who is most opposed to the new government under Napoleon. She doesn’t care much about the politics of the whole situation; she just wants to tie her hair with ribbons and eat sugar, things her social status won’t allow. Many animals consider her a trader when she is seen being petted by a human from a neighboring farm. Soon Mollie is confronted by the “dedicated” animals, and she quietly leaves the farm. Mollie characterizes the typical middle-class skilled worker who suffers from this new communism concept. No longer will she get her sugar (nice salary) because she is now just as low as the other animals, like Boxer and Clover.
Orwell uses Mollie to characterize the people after any rebellion who aren’t too receptive to new leaders and new economics. There are always those resistant to change. This continues to dispel the believe Orwell hated that basically all animals act the same. The naivety of Marxism is criticized— socialism is not perfect and it doesn’t work for everyone.
Benjamin: Old Benjamin, an elderly donkey, is one of Orwell’s most elusive and intriguing characters on Animal Farm. He is described as rather unchanged since the rebellion. He still does his work the same way, never becoming too exited or too disappointed about anything that has passed. Benjamin explains, “Donkeys live a long time. None of you has ever seen a dead donkey.”
Although there is no clear metaphoric relationship between Benjamin and Orwell’s critique of communism, it makes sense that during any rebellion there or those who never totally embrace the revolution— those so cynical they no longer look to their leaders for help. Benjamin symbolizes the older generation, the critics of any new rebellion. Really this old donkey is the only animal who seems as though he couldn’t care less about Napoleon and Animal Farm. It’s almost as if he can see into the future, knowing that the revolt is only a temporary change, and will flop in the end.
Benjamin is the only animal who doesn’t seem to have expected anything positive from the revolution. He almost seems on a whole different maturity lever compared to the other animals. He is not sucked in by Napoleon’s propaganda like the others. The only time he seems to care about the others at all is when Boxer is carried off in the glue truck. It’s almost as if the old donkey finally comes out of his shell, his perfectly fitted demeanor, when he tries to warn the others of Boxer’s fate. And the animals do try to rescue Boxer, but it’s too late. Benjamin seems to be finally confronting Napoleon and revealing his knowledge of the pigs’ hypocrisy, although before he had been completely independent.
After the animals have forgotten Jones and their past lives, Benjamin still remembers everything. Orwell states, “Only old Benjamin professed to remember every detail of his long life and to know that things never had been, nor ever could be much better or much worse— hunger, hardship, and disappointment being, so he said, the unalterable law of life.”
Muriel: Muriel is a knowledgeable goat who reads the commandments for Clover. Muriel represents the minority of working class people who are educated enough to decide things for themselves and find critical and hypocritical problems with their leaders. Unfortunately for the other animals, Muriel is not charismatic or inspired enough to take action and oppose Napoleon and his pigs.
Pigs: Orwell uses the pigs to surround and support Napoleon. They symbolize the communist party loyalists and the friends of Stalin. The pigs, unlike other animals, live in luxury and enjoy the benefits of the society they help control. The inequality and true hypocrisy of communism is expressed here by Orwell, who criticized Marx’s oversimplified view of a socialist, “utopian” society. Obviously George Orwell doesn’t believe such a society can exist.
Toward the end of the book, Orwell emphasizes, “Somehow it seemed as though the farm had grown richer without making the animals themselves any richer— except, of course, the pigs and the dogs.”
Dogs: Orwell uses the dogs in his book, Animal Farm, to represent the KGB or perhaps more accurately, the bodyguards of Stalin. The dogs are the arch-defenders of Napoleon and the pigs, and although they don’t speak, they are definitely a force the other animals have to contend with.
Orwell almost speaks of the dogs as mindless robots, so dedicated to Napoleon that they can’t really speak for themselves. This contention is supported as Orwell describes Napoleon’s early and suspicious removal of six puppies from their mother. The reader is left in the dark for a while, but later is enlightened when Orwell describes the chase of Snowball. Napoleon uses his “secret dogs” for the first time here; before Snowball has a chance to stand up and give a counter-argument to Napoleon’s disapproval of the windmill, the dogs viciously attack the pig, forcing him to flee, never to return again.
Orwell narrates, “Silent and terrified, the animals crept back into the barn. In a moment the dogs came bounding back. At first no one had been able to imagine where these creatures came from, but the problem was soon solved: they were the puppies whom Napoleon had taken away from their mothers and reared privately. Though not yet full-grown, they were huge dogs, and as fierce-looking as wolves. They kept close to Napoleon. It was noticed that they wagged their tails to him in the same way as the other dogs had been used to do to Mr. Jones.”
The use of the dogs begins the evil use of force which helps Napoleon maintain power. Later, the dogs do even more dastardly things when they are instructed to kill the animals labeled “disloyal.”
Stalin, too, had his own special force of “helpers.” Really there are followers loyal to any politician or government leader, but Stalin in particular needed a special police force to eliminate his opponents. This is how Trotsky was killed.
Animals: The sheep and other animals are very similar to Boxer and Clover. Both the horses and sheep represent in many ways the proletariat, or working class of unskilled laborers. These animals depend on their backs, not their brains, to do work. Thus, they fall into the bottom of society and are the focal point of politicians’ brainwashing.
The animals are stubborn and easily swayed. Orwell points out repeatedly that if it wasn’t for the bleating of the sheep, “Two legs bad, four legs good,” which was strategically inspired by the pigs, Napoleon wouldn’t have the power and control that he eventually came to enjoy and then abuse.
Frederick: The theme of the gun and flag rituals performed by the animals at the urging of Napoleon is strengthened through Orwell’s description of Mr. Frederick, the neighbor of Animal Farm. Frederick, through the course of the book, becomes an enemy and then a friend and then an enemy again to Napoleon, who makes many secret deals and treaties with him. One of the major problems the two farms have is the issue of the timber. Napoleon sells the wood to Frederick for bank notes, only to find that they are worthless. During the world wide depression, countries were forced by necessity to trade with other countries. One country would have a product or natural resource another country would not; therefore to survive, the country would trade. Many times the trades were unfair and fraudulent. This created many international problems. So you can see the parallels are clear.
Pilkington: Orwell uses Pilkington, another neighbor of Animal Farm, as a metaphor for the Allies of World War II (excluding, of course Russia). Like the Soviet Union before World War II, Animal Farm wasn’t sure who their allies would be. But after losing the relationship with Frederick (Germany), Napoleon (Stalin) decides to befriend Pilkington, and ally with him. Napoleon and the other pigs even go as far as to invite him over for dinner at the end of the book. Here Mr. Pilkington and his men congratulate Napoleon on the efficiency of Animal Farm.
Orwell narrates, “Mr. Pilkington once again congratulated the pigs on the low rations, the long working hours, and the general absence of pampering which he had observed on Animal Farm.” Russia’s allies, after the war, also admired it’s efficiency. But soon the cold war would begin between the United States and Russia. This is unbelievably also referred to in the book (published in 1946) when Orwell writes, “An uproar of voices was coming from the farmhouse…a violent quarrel was in progress. There were shouting, banging on the table, sharp suspicious glances, furious denials.” Amazingly Orwell seemed to sense the start of American-Russian tension for years to come.
Rats: Orwell’s rats (and the other wild animals, like rabbits, for that matter) represent the opposition to the Bolsheviks. They too, had to be included in the rebellion, although for the longest time they sided with the another party. The rats and rabbits symbolize other political parties. Although the communist party took off with Lenin, there were still others around. These are the wild animals.
Pigeons: The pigeons symbolize Soviet propaganda, not to Russia, but to other countries, like Germany, England, France, and even the United States. Russia had created an iron curtain even before WWII. The Communist government raved about its achievements and its advanced technology, but it never allowed experts or scientists from outside the country to check on its validity. Orwell mentions the fact that the other farmers became suspicious and worried when their animals began to sing Beasts of England. Many Western governments have gone through a similar problem with their people in this century. There was a huge “Red Scare” in the United States in the 20’s. In the 1950’s in the United States, Joseph McCarthy was a legislative member of the government from Wisconsin. He accused hundreds of people of supporting the Communist regime, from famous actors in Hollywood to middle-class common people. The fear of communism became a phobia in America and anyone speaking out against the government was a suspect.