George Orwell’s Animal Farm Characters: Study Notes

Animal Farm, written by George Orwell, is a renowned novel that serves as a critique of the Soviet Union and the dangers of totalitarianism. Orwell skillfully uses anthropomorphic animals to represent the main characters and their roles within the story.
In this article, we will explore the key characters in George Orwell’s Animal Farm and provide study notes to help readers understand their motivations, actions, and contributions to the overall theme of the novel.

The Characters

Old Major – The Visionary Leader

Old Major, a wise and respected boar, is the catalyst for the animals’ rebellion. As the oldest and most experienced animal on the farm, he inspires the other animals with his dream of a utopian society where animals live free from human oppression. Old Major’s character symbolizes Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin, who were influential in the establishment of communism.

Napoleon – The Tyrannical Leader

Napoleon, a Berkshire boar, is one of the main antagonists in Animal Farm. He represents Joseph Stalin, the totalitarian leader of the Soviet Union. Initially, Napoleon portrays himself as a committed revolutionary, but as the story unfolds, his desire for power becomes apparent. Napoleon uses propaganda, fear, and violence to consolidate his control over the other animals, ultimately transforming the once-free society into a dictatorship.

Snowball – The Idealistic Rebel

Snowball, a clever and eloquent pig, is initially Napoleon’s comrade and co-leader. He represents Leon Trotsky, a promising and intellectual figure in the early days of the Soviet Union. Snowball’s character embodies the ideals of the revolution, advocating for education, technological advancement, and equality. However, Napoleon sees Snowball as a threat and eventually forces him out of the farm, blaming him for all the problems that arise.

Boxer – The Dedicated Worker

Boxer, a loyal and strong cart-horse, represents the working class in Animal Farm. He is known for his motto, “I will work harder,” and his unwavering loyalty to the cause. Boxer is depicted as a hardworking and dedicated character, but he is also naive and easily manipulated. Despite his immense contributions to the farm, Boxer is ultimately betrayed and sent to the knacker’s yard, symbolizing the betrayal of the working class by oppressive regimes.

Squealer – The Manipulative Propagandist

Squealer, a persuasive and cunning pig, serves as Napoleon’s propaganda machine. He represents the propaganda apparatus used by totalitarian regimes to control the narrative and manipulate public opinion. Squealer uses catchy slogans, misinformation, and selective memories to justify Napoleon’s actions and maintain the loyalty of the other animals.

Benjamin – The Skeptic

Benjamin, an old and cynical donkey, is perhaps the most insightful and pessimistic character in Animal Farm. He represents the skeptical individuals who have seen through the empty promises of revolutionary leaders. Although Benjamin possesses knowledge and critical thinking skills, he is reluctant to challenge the status quo and remains passive throughout the novel.

The Other Animals – The Masses

Various other animals in the novel represent different segments of society and their responses to the changing political landscape. For example, the sheep symbolize the blind followers who mindlessly repeat slogans, while the hens represent the persecuted individuals who are silenced by the regime.


Animal Farm” by George Orwell is a famous allegorical novel that uses farm animals to represent figures and ideologies from the Russian Revolution and the early Soviet Union. Here’s a summary of the main characters and their allegorical representations:

  1. Napoleon: A large, fierce-looking Berkshire boar who becomes the leader of Animal Farm after the Rebellion. He represents Joseph Stalin, the Soviet dictator. Napoleon gradually consolidates power, eliminating his rivals and enforcing his rule through fear and propaganda.
  2. Snowball: Another boar who is a more vivacious pig than Napoleon, smarter, and more inventive. He represents Leon Trotsky, Stalin’s rival. Snowball is chased away from the farm by Napoleon’s dogs and is used as a scapegoat for all the farm’s problems.
  3. Squealer: A small, white, fat porker who serves as Napoleon’s right-hand pig and a master of manipulation. He represents the Soviet propaganda machine, particularly the Pravda newspaper. Squealer justifies Napoleon’s actions and policies to the other animals, twisting the truth and rewriting history.
  4. Old Major: An old, wise, and highly respected boar whose vision of a socialist utopia inspires the Rebellion. He represents Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin. Old Major’s ideas form the foundation of Animalism, but his vision is later corrupted by Napoleon.
  5. Boxer: A loyal, kind, dedicated, extremely strong, hard-working, and respectable cart-horse. Boxer represents the working class. His maxims “I will work harder” and “Napoleon is always right” show his dedication but also his naive trust in his leaders. His tragic fate represents the betrayal of the working class.
  6. Clover: A maternal, caring female horse, who shows concern especially for Boxer. She represents the female working class and motherly figures within society.
  7. Mollie: A vain, selfish mare who craves attention and material comfort. She represents the bourgeoisie and aristocracy who fled Russia after the Revolution.
  8. Benjamin: A cynical, pessimistic donkey who is one of the oldest animals. Benjamin represents the skeptical people in society and those who are aware of the leaders’ corruption but feel powerless to stop it.
  9. The Sheep: They represent the blindly loyal masses who believe and repeat whatever they’re told by their leaders.
  10. Mr. Jones: The original owner of Manor Farm, who is overthrown by the animals. He represents the Tsar and the old government overthrown in the Revolution.

Each of these characters symbolizes different social and political elements of the time. Orwell uses these allegories to critique the corruption of socialist ideals and the nature of totalitarian rule.

George Orwell’s Animal Farm is a thought-provoking novel that uses allegory and anthropomorphic characters to expose the flaws and dangers of totalitarianism. Understanding the motivations and actions of the main characters is essential to unraveling the deeper themes of the novel.
By studying the characters like Old Major, Napoleon, Snowball, Boxer, Squealer, Benjamin, and the other animals, readers can gain insights into the consequences of unchecked power, the manipulation of propaganda, and the importance of critical thinking. Animal Farm serves as a reminder of the eternal struggle for freedom and the need to remain vigilant against oppression.

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