George Orwell had strong political convictions and Animal Farm was a way for him to express them. The novel as a whole reflects his feelings about Stalinist Russia and is a direct criticism of the regime.
Orwell who used a false name – his real name was Eric Arthur Blair – knew his subject was controversial and he even struggled to find a publisher at first. He cleverly made the story – subtitled a “fairy story” – about animals to allow for reading at many levels and to allow for interpretation.
Benjamin is just a donkey, a very uninspiring and unassuming animal and he seems to represent Orwell’s own feelings
His cynicism is much like Orwell's own attitude toward life
Orwell however had joined the Independent Labor Party and even joined the Spanish Civil War to show his disregard for Imperialism. Although he did receive a good education, he always felt out of place at school and the experience
made him sensitive to the cruelty of social snobbery.
There are a few other potential references to his own life and circumstances such as the fact that he called the goat in Animal Farm Muriel, actually naming her after an animal on his own family farm.
Orwell also struggled to combat Tuberculosis – which ultimately claimed his life – and Boxer’s
lung trouble seems to refer to Orwell's own bouts with tuberculosis.
The eNotes study guide will help you understand the circumstances surrounding Animal Farm and you can navigate to the character analyses and so on.