Characters Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Mr. Jones, the owner of Manor Farm. After getting drunk on Midsummer’s Eve, Mr. Jones fails to return in time to feed his animals. They have been thinking about rebellion anyway, and they take this opportunity to chase away Mr. Jones, Mrs. Jones, and the human farmworkers. In his ineptness, Mr. Jones is analogous to the czar of Russia, who was unable to hold Russia together during the stress of World War I.
Old Major, a boar previously exhibited as Willingdon Beauty. He is the prize boar whose dream inspires the Animalist Revolution on Manor Farm. Modeled on Vladimir Ilich Lenin, Old Major is highly respected in the barnyard, a capable orator, and an uncompromising ideologue for the Animalist cause. He dies in his sleep before the rebellion can take place.
Snowball, a young boar whose chief rival is Napoleon. Snowball is modeled on Leon Trotsky and so represents intelligence and organizational ability rather than brute force. It is Snowball, for example, who writes the Seven Commandments on the barnyard wall, who has the idea of building the windmill, and who studies the books left behind by Mr. Jones to see what practical benefit he can extract from them. Like Trotsky, Snowball is exiled after the revolution and is falsely made out to be the chief villain of Animal Farm.
Napoleon, a young boar who ousts Snowball and assumes complete power over the other...
(The entire section is 618 words.)
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The Characters (Masterplots II: British and Commonwealth Fiction Series)
By necessity, in allegory characters are two-dimensional figures who are created to serve the purposes of the underlying conceptual framework. Because they must have a one-to-one relationship with the thematic targets of the satiric thrust of the work, they cannot possess the complexity of real people in the real world. Some of the minor figures in Animal Farm are clearly representative of simple human qualities. For example, the sheep suggest mindless followers who are content to bleat the simplistic slogan, “Four legs good, two legs bad,” which the pigs teach them. Mollie, the young mare, represents foolish vanity, content to remain in harness as long as she is pampered and petted. Benjamin, the donkey, is the cynicism of one who has seen everything and hopes for nothing. Boxer and Clover are well-meaning but stupid brute workers, sensitive and caring but not intelligent enough to challenge authority.
In terms of the specific allegory Orwell seems to have in mind, however, it is the pigs who are most specifically drawn and who bear the most pointed one-to-one relationship with real figures. Most critics agree that Major is the chief theoretician of socialism, Karl Marx, whereas Snowball is Communism’s first great leader and thinker, Leon Trotsky, and Napoleon is its first dictator, Joseph Stalin. The story thus mirrors in satiric form the history of the Soviet Union from the Russian Revolution to World War II, when Stalin entered into various deals with Germany and the Allies, presented in the allegory as neighboring human farmers.