Animal Farm Character Analysis
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Animal Farm Character Analysis

This is an article on the character analysis of Animal Farm.

 Old Major

He was a highly regarded pig on the farm. He was twelve years old and had lately grown rather stout. However, 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.

Old Major is the first major character described by Orwell in Animal Farm. 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 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.

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. 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.

Boxer

He was an enormous beast, nearly eighteen hands high, and as strong as any two ordinary horses put together. A white strip 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.

He is the male of the two horses on the farm. Boxer has a special affinity for Benjamin. With his determination to be a good public servant and his penchant for hard work, Boxer becomes Napoleon’s greatest supporter. He works tirelessly for the cause of Animal Farm, operating under his personal maxims, “I will work harder” and “Napoleon is always right.” The only time Boxer doubts propaganda is when Squealer tries to rewrite the story of Snowball’s valor at the Battle of the Cowshed, a “treachery” for which he is nearly executed. But Boxer recants his doubts when he learns that the altered story of the battle is directly from Napoleon. After Boxer is injured while defending the farm in the Battle of the Windmill, Napoleon sends him to be slaughtered for profit. The pigs use the money from the slaughter to buy themselves a case of whisky. Boxer is not quarrelsome despite his name, but he is as strong as his name implies. In this way, 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 in Chapter 7. 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 which was enough to overthrow a manipulative government, but which is uneducated enough to take propaganda to heart and believe unconditionally in the government’s cause.

Later, the importance of the workers 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.

Benjamin

He was the oldest animal on the farm, and the worst tempered. He seldom talked, and when he did it, 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. Alone among the animals on the farm, he never laughed. If asked why, he would say that he saw nothing to laugh at. Nevertheless, without openly admitting it, he was devoted to Boxer; the two of them usually spent their Sundays together in the small paddock beyond the orchard, grazing side by side and never speaking.

He is an elderly donkey, 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 have 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. He 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' being hypocrites, although before he had been completely independent.

After the animals have forgotten Jones and their past lives, Benjamin still remembers everything as quoted from, "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."

Napoleon

- Large, rather fierce looking Berkshire boar.

- Not much of a talker.

- Has a reputation of getting his own way.

- Does not contribute to the farm.

- Only cares about his power.

- A corrupt opportunist.

Snowball

- More vivacious pig than Napoleon

- Quicker in speech

- More inventive

- Fervent ideologue

- Relies on logic and rhetorical skill.

Squealer

- Small, fat pig with very round cheeks, twinkling eyes, nimble movements and shrill voice.

- Brilliant talker.

- According to the animals, he could turn black into white.

- Lack of conscience.

- Unwavering loyalty.

- Good rhetorical skill.

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 all 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.

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.

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.

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Comments (2)

Outstanding analysis on the characters of a very important book.

Excellent! Well done analysis of George Orwell's Animal Farm

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