Who do the characters in Animal Farm represent in real life?

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The animals of Animal Farm are allegories for real people who lived and died in the Russian Revolution, and the leaders represent Joseph Stalin and Leon Trotsky.

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Having become a Socialist in the 1930s after he was in contact with unemployed, destitute coal miners, George Orwell (the nom de plume of Eric Arthur Blair) later became disillusioned with it; moreover, he was greatly disturbed by the spread of harsh dictatorships. His fable, Animal Farm, written as a reaction to his great disappointment in Fascism, Marxist Socialism, and Communism, uses animals to represent certain historical figures and portray events in Russian history from 1817-1943.

Major = Vladimir Lenin. Lenin was the leader of the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917; he had read Marx's works.

Snowball = Trotsky. Trotsky who joined the Bolsheviks after having been in an opposing faction believed himself the heir-apparent of Lenin, but after Lenin died, Stalin outmanoeuvred him, having him thrown out of the party and exiled.

Napoleon = Stalin. Like Stalin, Napoleon eliminates his competition, running off Snowball. He is a brutal dictator.

Squealer = the Communists speaker who informs the public. He reinterprets what has happened.

 Mollie, the young mare = a vain female who foolishly pays no attention to changes in life. She is satisfied with her state as long as she is pampered.

Benjamin, the donkey, = older people who have seen governments come and go and expect nothing. the cynicism of one who has seen everything and hopes for nothing.

Boxer = the firmly-entrenched believer in Communism. He thinks if he just works harder, conditions will improve, and he never questions authority. He represents one of the peasantry hoping life will be better.

Other human farmers = Germany and the Allies with whom Stalin entered into various deals and alliances.

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How are the characters in Animal Farm allegories for real-life people?

Most of the named characters in Animal Farm are allegories for real people who lived and died in the Russian Revolution and afterwards. Old Major, the creator of Animalism, represents Karl Marx, the creator of Communism. Napoleon and Snowball represent Joseph Stalin and Leon Trotsky, who were instrumental in forming the revolution; as in real like, Napoleon drives Snowball from the farm to keep personal power. Squealer and the dogs are the propaganda and military arms of the government, respectively; Squealer spends his time convincing the animals that their hardships are actually good while the dogs kill anyone seen as subversive.

Napoleon was a large, rather fierce-looking Berkshire boar, the only Berkshire on the farm, not much of a talker, but with a reputation for getting his own way. Snowball was a more vivacious pig than Napoleon, quicker in speech and more inventive, but was not considered to have the same depth of character.
(Orwell, Animal Farm, msxnet.org)

Snowball, like Trotsky, genuinely believed that there could be a system in which each animals works to their ability and each takes according to their need; Napoleon, like Stalin, understood that the system was inherently unworkable and so worked towards amassing personal power instead. In this fashion, the characters of the novel represent the real people of the Russian experiment with Marxism, and show how those experiments ultimately led to a worse situation than the one they rebelled against.

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