What do the names Mollie, Mr.Jones, the sheep, and Mr.Whymper signify in Animal Farm?  

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In literature there is usually a significant connection between a character's name and the role in the narrative that the character plays, as well as a connection to certain traits of the character. 

Therefore, notwithstanding Juliet's famous indictment against names--

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet." (2.2.)--

certain names are, indeed, significant in Animal Farm.

  • Mr. Jones - With one of the most common names among English-speaking people, Mr. Jones is representative of the capitalist who is solely concerned about making profits. The welfare of his workers is only important with respect to their ability to produce. (Interestingly, many a man named Jones was an overseer on plantations in the South.)
    Mr. Jones worries about "keeping up with the Joneses" when he elicits the help of the other farmers and they fight against the animals. That is, Jones hopes to re-establish his power as owner of the farm, thereby "keeping up" in position with the other farmers.
  • Mollie - Mollie is a pampered mare, who misses the treats and preferential treatment she received when she pulled Mr. Jones to town and other places. She was "mollycoddled," or indulged, when she was with Mr. Jones, and now she misses her special treatment of wearing ribbons and eating certain treats. She does not want to be considered a "comrade."
  • The sheep - The word sheep carries with it the idea of blind followers who accept everything that someone above them says and does. They are incapable of thinking for themselves. For instance, at first the sheep bleat "Four legs good, two legs bad" as Napoleon has taught them to blurt out when Snowball talks; however, Napoleon later gets them to chant, "Four legs good, two legs better" after he begins to walk on two legs. The sheep's bleating of these sayings drown out the thinking of others, not to mention their own.
  • Mr. Whymper - This lawyer who wears side whiskers is a sly man who becomes a broker for Animal Farm who pays him commissions. He is the first human to make contact with the farm, which alarms some of the animals.  After the farm starts to fail, Whymper makes hints that the farm is doing well, instead, and the truth becomes but a whimper. Most importantly, this confusion of what is said with reality represses the truth.