How are the pigs humanized in Animal Farm? How are they portrayed with human characteristics?

Expert Answers
durbanville eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Animal Farm by George Orwell has parallels with the Russian Revolution of 1917 and yet it has similarities to any system in the world where power is a corrupting influence. The characters in the "fairy story" are representative of different types of people and the animals' humanization begins early when, even as animals, there is a need to have a form of civilization with rules and leaders (the pigs) and, therefore, inevitably, a "system." The irony of "animalism" and its good intentions highlight the way human nature invades even the most simplistic ideas and channels them into something of benefit to, in this case, the pigs. Orwell is clever to always attribute distinct human qualities separately; for example, Snowball is the visionary, Squealer is the persuader, the dogs are the brute force and Napoleon is self-serving. This ensures that the animals are not complex characters. 

In chapter 2, the Seven Commandments are painted on the wall and, subsequent to this, there is a discussion about being created "equal." The animals supposedly reject anything that may be considered human- clothes, beds and so on- but their inability to recognize that rules and the conflict that results are human characteristics, cements their inevitable failure. The fact that, "The importance of keeping the pigs in good health was all too obvious," (ch 3) means that a hierarchy now exists instead of each animal's worth being measured against what needs to be done and which animal can do it. The survival of the smartest rather than survival of the fittest, which is standard in the animal kingdom, is a concrete humanizing factor as the superiority of the pigs is confirmed.  

As the story develops, the pigs begin to enjoy more human comforts and one by one the Seven Commandments are amended to ensure that no animal can question the pigs who are firmly in control. Drinking milk, sleeping in the farm house, sleeping in beds, drinking alcohol and killing innocent animals reveals their growing aptitude for being human. The development of human characteristics by the pigs are accepted by the reader as inevitable and the helplessness of the other animals also confirms that the pigs are becoming more human. By the end, there is little difference between pig and person and it is "impossible to say which is which" (chapter 10).