Animal Farm

Description of the characters and explain how they are developed throughout Animal Farm

Please only explain the main characters (Napoleon, Squealer, Snowball and Boxer) Or anyone else you think is relevant to mention.


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The donkey. He is the oldest animal on the farm and stereotypically stubborn and crotchety. He is also intelligent, being the only animal (aside from the pigs) that can read fluently. He never laughs, preferring to make cynical comments, especially the cryptic line, “donkeys live a long time.” Despite Benjamin’s unfriendly nature, he has a special affinity for Boxer. The Rebellion does not change Benjamin’s personality, although he eventually helps the animals read the lettering on the side of the van and the maxim that replaces the Seven Commandments. Benjamin represents the human (and also stereotypically Russian) tendency towards apathy; he holds fast to the idea that life is inherently hard and that efforts for change are futile. Benjamin bears a similarity to Orwell himself. Over the course of his career, Orwell became politically pessimistic and predicted the overtake of the West by totalitarian governments.


The male of the two horses on the farm. He is “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” (26). 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 pugnacious 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 VII. 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 leaders among the pigs, Napoleon is a “large, rather fierce-looking Berkshire boar” that is up for sale. He is the only Berkshire boar on the farm. He is “not much of a talker” and has “a reputation for getting his own way” (35). Napoleon expels Snowball from the farm and takes over. He modifies his opinions and policies and rewrites history continually to benefit the pigs. Napoleon awards special privileges to the pigs and especially to himself. For example, he dines on Mr. Jones’s fine china, wears Mr. Jones’s dress clothes, and smokes a pipe. As time goes on, Napoleon becomes a figure in the shadows, increasingly secluding himself and making few public appearances. Eventually, Napoleon holds a conciliatory meeting with the neighboring human farmers and effectively takes over Mr. Jones’s position as dictator. Napoleon represents the type of dictator or tyrant who shirks the common good, instead seeking more and more power in order to create his own regime. Orwell reflects Napoleon’s greed for power with a name that invokes Napoleon Bonaparte, the very successful French leader who became “Emperor” and brashly invaded Russia before being defeated by Russia. But Napoleon the pig more directly 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.

Old Major

A prize Middle White boar that the Joneses exhibited under the name “Willingdon Beauty.” He is, “stout … But still a majestic-looking pig, with a wise and benevolent appearance” (26). In addition to his laurels in the exhibition world, Major is highly respected among his fellow farm animals. His age is twelve years, which makes him a senior among them, and he also claims to have had over four hundred children. He is the one who calls the meeting in the first chapter to discuss his strange dream. Major claims to “understand the nature of life on this earth as well as any animal now living” (28). Months after his death, the pigs disinter his skull and place it at the base of the flagpole beside the gun. Major symbolizes two historical figures. First, he represents Karl Marx, the father of Marxism. Marx’s political hypotheses about working-class consciousness and division of labor worked infinitely better in theory than in practice, especially when corrupt leaders twisted them for their personal gain. Second, Major represents Vladimir Lenin, the foremost of the three authors of the Russian Revolution and the formation of the Soviet Union. Lenin died during the Soviet Union’s early years, leaving Trotsky (Snowball) and Stalin (Napoleon) to vie for his leadership position.


One of the leaders among the pigs, Snowball is a young pig that is up for sale. He is more intelligent than Napoleon but lacks Napoleon’s depth of character. He is also a brilliant orator. Snowball, who represents Leon Trotsky, is a progressive politician and aims to improve Animal Farm with a windmill and other technological advances, but Napoleon expels him before he can do so. In his absence, Snowball comes to represent an abstract idea of evil. The animals blame misfortunes on him, including the windmill’s destruction, and entertain the idea that he is lurking on one of the neighboring farms, plotting revenge. Napoleon uses the animals’ fear of Snowball to create new propaganda and changes history to make it seem as though Snowball was always a spy and a traitor. Snowball’s name is symbolic in this way. Napoleon encourages the animals’ fear of him to grow or snowball so that it becomes so great it is almost palpable. Snowball’s name may also refer to Trotsky’s call (following Marx) to encourage a revolution outside the Soviet Union that would “snowball” into an international proletariat revolution. Snowball can more generally be said to represent systems of belief outside of communism, which the government demonizes in order to lionize its own system.


The best known of the porker pigs, Squealer has “very round cheeks, twinkling eyes, nimble movements, and a shrill voice.” He is also “a brilliant talker” who is talented in the art of argument. The other pigs say Squealer “could turn black into white” (35). Under Napoleon’s rule, Squealer acts as the liaison to the other animals. He lies to them, rewriting history and reading them encouraging, but false, statistics. Squealer is especially good at playing on the animals’ ignorance and gullibility. He represents the propaganda machine of a totalitarian government.