Thus, he has crafted his characters in ‘Animal Farm‘ based on an individual or a set of people closely connected with the Soviet Revolution and what followed after. He has established his strong ideas through the light characters, which consist mostly the farm animals and a few human characters.
Old Major, also called Willingdon Beauty, is a prize-winning boar, is one of the major characters in the novel. He is revered by the animals on the farm and proposes a solution to the animals’ desperate plight on Manor Farm.
At the beginning of the novel, he gathers all the animals together and inspires them with his thoughts of rebellion. He proposes humans as their one true enemy, as shares his dream of a world where animals are free without humans. He is the one who teaches them the song “Beast of England”. In the novel, his character represents the view of Karl Marks. Three days after their meeting he dies and taken to the slaughterer.
‘Napoleon’ is an imaginary character created by George Orwell based on ‘Joseph Stalin.’ The initial description says him as “a large, rather fierce-looking Berkshire boar” who is “not much of a talker” and has “a reputation for getting his own way”.
He is the primary antagonist of the novel. In the beginning, he seems to be a sincere follower of Old Major’s ideology of Animalism, along with Snowball. But soon when the revolution is successful we see much sly activity of him, and soon he assumes himself as the leader of the Farm when he drives and defames Snowball as a traitor. Like Stalin, Napoleon uses military force (his nine loyal attack dogs) to control other animals and to consolidate his power.
He continues to change the Seven Commandments according to his convenience and convinces other animals that it’s all for their good. But, his final act of changing the Seventh Commandment to “ALL ANIMALS ARE EQUAL / BUT SOME ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS” and the Farm’s name to ‘Manor Farm’ shows him as a dictator than a socialist leader.
Snowball’s character in the novel is largely based on Leon Trotsky. Trotsky was a political theorist, revolutionary, and leader of the Red Army, which was led against Joseph Stalin. After the Revolution, he was involved in Russian foreign affairs and policymaking, but forced into exile from the Soviet Union by Stalin.
Like Trotsky, Snowball too conjures up many good ideas that would help the working animals to get more free time from work, which they can spend in reading and conversing. He is a visionary, who took the teachings of Old Major and turned them into a way of thinking called ‘Animalism’ with the support of other pigs.
Also, he is a brave fighter, who organized the animals during ‘The Battle of the Cowshed’ and went straight for Jones “He himself dashed straight for Jones. Jones saw him coming, raised his gun, and fired. The pellets scored bloody streaks along Snowball’s back…” Compared to Napoleon he is a good speaker. But, when he was turned away from the farm by Napoleon as a scapegoat – anything that goes wrong on the farm is blamed on him.
Boxer is described as a hardworking, but naive and ignorant cart horse in the novel. He is shown as the farm’s most dedicated and loyal laborer. If observed closely, he is the strongest animal and could easily fight off the pigs and dogs, but he never does or thinks so, for he is too used to taking orders. In works very hard with his favorite sayings: ‘Napoleon is always right’ and ‘I will work harder.
In spite of his loyalty and hard work with a large portion of the windmill, he was betrayed by the pigs. When he becomes ill and no more of use to them, they sell him to the horse slaughterer so that they can buy more whisky. Even though, Benjamin sees the writing on the truck and alerts other animals that “They are taking Boxer to the knacker’s!” they could do nothing.
The highest form of betrayal is seen, when Squealer claims to have been present at Boxer’s death, a tale he relates emotionally to the other animals with “Forward, Comrades! … Forward in the name of the Rebellion” and “Long live Animal Farm! Long live Comrade Napoleon!” as his last words. Through Boxer’s death, Orwell relates his idea of the exploitation of the working classes as well as the death of the idealism. Boxer represents the peasant workers of Russia, who were exploited by Tsar Nicholas II, and led into more hardship and starvation under the rule of Stalin.
Benjamin is an old and cynical donkey. He remains neutral during all situations, especially when things go well for the animals as well as when things go all wrong. No one on the farm knows exactly how old he is, and he is one of the few animals who live the see through the revolution.
Though he is described as being the worst tempered animal, remains by his side while Boxer suffers and does his best to keep the flies off him. Being the oldest of all the animals, he has an idea on the “Unalterable Law of Life” that is no matter what they do, they will always have to work.
Squealer is another of the three most important pigs, serves as second-in-command to Napoleon. Like Snowball, he is clever and a good orator. He is excellent at persuading other animals, thus, ends up being Napoleon’s spokesperson.
Using his smartness, he propagates: Napoleon’s orders, his choices, and tells lies to support Napoleon as in the case of Boxer’s death. Orwell has set Squealer’s character in the representation of the ‘Pravda’ in the Russian Revolution. Stalin hid behind a wall of propaganda, specifically the Pravda, or Russian newspaper, for he couldn’t share his open views. Similarly, in the novel, Napoleon hid behind Squealer.
Clover is a motherly horse that takes care of all the animals on the farm, especially Boxer. Orwell describes her as “a stout motherly mare approaching middle life, who had never quite got her figure back after her fourth foal.” She symbolizes the women of the Revolution, who took care of the destitute and desolate children during the revolution. When the novel ends, Clover is 14 years old, still has not retired from work. Although she believed in Napoleon, she was suspicious at times and questioned his power silently. A shock awaits Clover when she discovers that the pigs were walking on their hind legs like humans.
Mr Jones, a drunkard and the owner of the Manor Farm is modeled after Tsar Nicholas II. He is represented as an unsympathetic master who makes the animals work but never takes care of their need, especially, food and shelter. Like the Tsar, he was outcast by the animals out of Farm.
Mr Pilkington is the owner of Foxwood, a nearby Farm. In the novel, he is pictured as “an easy-going gentleman farmer” who is more interested in doing what he enjoys like “fishing or hunting according to the season” than “running his farm.”
Frederick is a tough, shrewd operator of Pinchfield, another neighboring farm. His character is based on Adolf Hitler, who was the ruler of Nazi Germany in the 1930s and 1940s. Like Germany, even Mr Frederick proves an untrustworthy neighbor.
Mr Whymper is the solicitor whom Napoleon hires as “an intermediary between Animal Farm and the outside world” to represent Animal Farm to the outside world. He’s the first human the pigs permit contact with after the Rebellion, Being a shrewd and calculating person, he becomes wealthy, by the end of the novel. His character represents the capitalists who got rich doing business with the USSR.
A tame raven and Mr Jones’s special pet, which spreads stories of Sugarcandy Mountain. The animals dislike him because he doesn’t work, but many of them do believe his stories about the paradise to which animals supposedly go when they die. Orwell uses Moses to represent organized religion, particularly the Russian Orthodox Church. Moses’ character symbolizes how communism exploits religion as something with which to pacify the oppressed.
Some of the other characters, who play a minor role, yet prominent ones are Minimus, The Cat, Mollie, The Sheep, The Hens, The Dogs, Muriel, Mrs Jones etc.