Compare and contrast the personalities and roles of the three horses in Animal Farm.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The horses featured in Orwell's work are distinct in their own ways.  Each features a component that Orwell can see as being manipulated by those in the position of power.  Mollie's self interest and desire for more sugar is something that Orwell sees as being critical in undermining solidarity and valid demands for change.  Her scope of self interest is contrasted with the nature of Boxer, whose self sacrifice for the good of Napoleon or the state is astonishing.  Boxer's desire and compulsion to work tirelessly for his government is noteworthy, and Orwell feels that it is this authenticity that is easily manipulated.  When Napoleon makes the deal to send Boxer away, it is a sign that unlimited loyalty and blind faith are dangerous for the body politic to possess with leaders who are motivated by the consolidation of their own power.  It is this perception that Benjamin possesses.  Benjamin is skeptical of Napoleon's claims from the start and does not succumb to the vision being offered by the pigs.  However, Benjamin does little, if anything, about it.  His failure to act, no doubt cemented by his own cynicism, ends up emboldening the aggressors or the political system because it has no redemptive end.  That is to say the cynicism might help individuals understand the ulterior motives of government.  However, if individuals do not act upon this and do something about the state of affairs, having such brilliant insight is useless.  Benjamin understands what is going to happen to Boxer, but takes too long in being able to help his friend.  In the end, each horse possesses characteristics or qualities that might be good, but these composites have to be merged into larger elements in order for true and meaningful change to result.  If this does not happen, each separate personification can become an extension of political control, a puppet of those who are in the position of power.