Animal Farm: Character Profiles
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.
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.
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."
xBoxer: 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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.