A work of fictions contains many characters used by writers to convey their ideas and develop the story. Similarly, the important characters in Animal Farm convey George Orwell’s ideas and criticism of dictatorial regimes. In allegorical forms, the characters in the form of animals refer to the real personalities of those times. Some of the important characters are discussed below.
Important Characters in Animal Farm
Napoleon is very important but a corrupt character in the novel. As a pig, he is the part of the rebellion since the beginning. To capitalize on the given opportunity to make a fortune is his motto. As soon as he gets the coveted power, he forgets all the promises he has made to the animals earlier. Then he starts displaying his own corrupt ways of living. Though he represents the Soviet leader, Stalin, he is also the embodiment of all politicians having the similar character traits of deception, manipulation, and exploitation. He is superb not only in using wily tactics but also in manipulating minds through his deputy, Squealer, another clever pig. By the end of the novel, Napoleon is successful in driving out all of his opponents from the animal farm.
The Old Major is an old boar having large tusks. Orwell creates the Old Major to represent Karl Marx. It is because he is the originator of the Communist Revolution in Russia despite his untimely death before it. The writer treats this character with dignity, honor, and respect. It is also clear that he wins the same respect from other animals. However, Orwell exposes some of his weaknesses. Though he makes long speeches elucidating man’s tyranny toward animals, he does not do much laborious work in the novel to show his own sincerity to the cause.
Snowball is a second class leader among the pigs. He works with Napoleon for the revolution. Also, he the chief thinker after the Old Major. He is not only intelligent but also very passionate about the welfare of his animal brothers. However, he is tricked by Napoleon as soon as Napoleon establishes his own superiority. Despite his oratory and eloquence, his cleverness proved second to Napoleon. That is why he has to flee persecution at the hands of Napoleon. By the end of the novel, though he is missing, he becomes a scapegoat for whatever bad happens to animals on the farm.
Squealer is an agile and small pig, who is the propaganda secretary of Napoleon. He is very smart in using his tusks and legs as writing tools. He abuses the language for the good of his master. He creates and amends the slogans according to the situation after Napoleon establishes his supremacy over others. For example, when his master, Napoleon tries to establish good terms with human beings, he amends his old slogan thus; “Four legs good, two legs better” from the old one “Two legs bad.” He also deceives the simple illiterate animals using tricky and challenging language. In fact, he is the representative of Goebbels, the famous propaganda minister of Hitler in Nazi Germany.
Boxer is a horse and the most sincere and caring animal on the farm. He becomes very popular for his passion for the revolution, his sincerity with the cause and his hardworking nature. He is quite gullible with his simple motto that Comrade Napoleon is always right. He possesses all the qualities of a hardworking, dedicated and loyal worker. However, his services are not acknowledged by the corrupt rulers. He works hard until he is no longer capable. Later, he is sold to a glue factory owner when he falls ill. This situation of Boxer represents the plight of poor working classes in all kinds of societies.
Mr. Jones is the representative of cruel human beings in the animal farm as referred by the Old Major. He owned the farm before the revolt of the animals. After the revolution, the animals occupy the whole farm and expel him by kicking and butting him. He remains drunk most of the time which leads to the neglect and ultimately revolt of the hungry animals. Following his expulsion, he tries to get it back. However, he never comes back though his shadow is shown as a lurking threat by the clever Squealer.
Clover is a beautiful mare and Boxer’s best friend. She is also a kindhearted character in the novel. She often discerns when the pigs violate rules, for they have formulated for all other animals. However, she is so simple-hearted that when such a thought crosses her mind, she thinks that it is her misreading of the circumstances. She represents rather innocent human beings who always trust schemes of their rulers as good acts taken for their welfare.
Pilkington is one of the owners of the neighboring farms who feels threatened by the activities of the animals in Jones’ farm. He has been shown as the shrinking British Empire during the time of the Russian Revolution. The size of his farm is also symbolic of the unruly British Empire nearing its end.
He is the owner of the Pinchfiled farm. He is a clever man who keeps himself busy with litigations with others. He is usually not at good terms with his neighbors. However, rebellion in the animal farm brings him close to his other neighbor, Mr. Pilkington. He spreads false news about the animal farm that the animals practice cannibalism. Later, both of them strike a deal with Napoleon who is the ruler of the animal farm. His hypocrisy represents the hypocrisy of the neighboring countries following the Russian Revolution.
Perhaps, Benjamin, the donkey is the only rational animal on the animal farm. He predicts well before time about the plight of the farm animals. He is very practical as he states that their lives will never develop and always be the same, even if the rulers keep changing. This proves right in the end. The weakness, however, in his nature is also exposed by Orwell which is that he cannot oppose the idea of pigs to rebel and rule. Instead, he compromises and goes on living with them come what may.