In the book, Animal Farm by George Orwell, there were a number of important characters who represented not only certain archetypes, but even certain characters from history. Chief among them were Napoleon, Snowball, Boxer, Squealer, Old Major, Benjamin and Mr. Jones.
Napoleon is the pig who is said to have been based on the historical figure of Joseph Stalin. He becomes the leader Animal Farm following the Rebellion. Like Stalin, this figure uses military force in the form of his nine loyal attack dogs to dominate the other farm animals and consolidate his power over the farm, not unlike the methods used by Stalin to control the emerging Russia/Soviet Union. Through his manipulative abilities, Napoleon demonstrates a more dangerous character than that of his rival, Snowball.
The character of snowball is based on the real-life Leon Trotsky. He is the pig who rivals Napoleon for the domination of Animal Farm following the Rebellion. Not unlike Trotsky, Snowball is passionate, eloquent, intelligent and not quite as subtle and deceptive as Napoleon, his rival. Snowball, however, appears to win the loyalty of the other animals and his populist power appears to be more concrete.
Boxer is the cart-horse. His powerful strength, loyalty and dedication serve a critical role in the Animal Farm, at first in its early prosperity and then afterwards in the completion of the windmill. Though he is slow-witted, he is always quick to help. The character Boxer demonstrates much devotion to the ideals of Animal Farm yet not a lot of ability to think independently about them. He trusts the pigs naively and allows them to make decisions for him. He has two mottoes “Napoleon is always right” and “I will work harder.”
Squealer is the pig whose role it is to spreads the propaganda of Napoleon to all of other animals on Animal Farm. Squealer uses false statistics about Animal Farm’s success in order to justify the pigs’ monopolization of resources. The character of Squealer is used by Orwell to demonstrate how those in power the ways frequently use language and rhetoric to manipulate the truth so as to gain and maintain political and social control.
The character of Old Major is one who is not only a prize-winning boar, but one who has a belief in a socialist utopia. He serves as an inspirational figure for the Rebellion. Major dies three days after he describes his vision and teaches the animals the “Beasts of England” song. This leaves only Napoleon and Snowball to fight for control of his legacy. This character was based on both the Russian revolutionary leader Vladimir Ilych Lenin Russian revolutionary leader Vladimir Ilych Lenin and the German political economist Karl Marx.
The long-lived donkey, Benjamin, is the character who refuses to allow the Rebellion to inspire him. Benjamin expresses a firm belief that no matter what happens and who is in charge, life will still be a struggle. He alone, of all the animals on the farm, understands the changes that are occurring, yet he appears either unable or unwilling present an opposition to the pigs.
Finally, Tsar Nicholas II is represented here as an often-drunk farmer, Mr. Jones. He ran the Manor Farm prior to the animals staging their Rebellion and subsequently establishing Animal Farm. This character is cruel and selfishly indulges himself while his animals hunger. Through this character we come to understand the reasons for the overthrow of his monarchy vis the Russian Revolution.
Through what appears to be a children’s story, Orwell expertly guides the reader through the story of the Russian Revolution and gives us an understanding of the different characters involved in this very human and historical drama.