Characters, the backbone of literary fiction, give voice to the narrative through their worth-reading and worth-remembering actions, deeds and dialogues.
One of the major elements of a tragedy as described by Aristotle, the characters, in a literary piece, act as its founding pillars driving the plot forward and highlighting the major themes and motifs.
The literary characters in George Orwell’s Animal Farm, like other characters in literature, play a vital role in making this novel worth-reading by bringing forth the incessant and unified struggle of some wise animals against the autocratic and totalitarian regimes in the early 1900s
Mr Jones: the Cruel Proprietor
An embodiment of tyranny and malice, Mr Jones is the owner of the farm who treats animals in a cruel manner by underfeeding them.
Since he loses his money and property in a lawsuit, he becomes extremely harsh to his animals on the farm. It is due to his cruelty and autocratic behaviour that animals on the farm decide to rebel against him.
Led by Old Major, the animals start a revolt against him driving him and his wife out of the farm. Although Mr Jones tries to retake his farm by initiating the Battle of the Cowshed against the animals but loses the battle bitterly. He leaves the farm and later dies in another part of the country.
Old Major: the Wise Pig
A symbolic Karl Marx, Old Major represents change and freedom in the novel. A wise pig, he not only understands the plight of the animals on the farm but also proposes a viable solution for the freedom and prosperity of his fellow animals.
It is Old Major who instigates other animals to revolt against Mr Jones, thus taking them out of their prolonged misery after a brutal battle.
A kind fatherly figure in the literary fiction, Old Major knows the value of freedom and equality; therefore, he desires to see the animals leading a free and prosperous life without the domination of human beings or other animals.
Old Major spends his whole life fighting for the cause of his fellow animals and dies peacefully after leading a life of honesty and equality.
Napoleon: the Tyrannical Pig
Unlike Old Major, Napoleon is a cruel and tyrannical pig in the novel. Representing Stalin, Napoleon reveals to the readers the faults and follies present in human beings due to their greed.
At the beginning of the literary text, Napoleon appears to be a good and fair ruler after the death of Old Major; however, he soon becomes power-hungry and uses weak animals on the farm for his personal gains.
For this purpose, he uses puppies to build a secret police force in order to drive out Snowball from the farm. He also uses force to keep the animals in order and to take special privileges for himself being the leader of the farm.
Boxer: the Hardworking Horse
A kind-hearted and hardworking horse, Boxer appears as one of the major characters in the novel. He plays a vital role in keeping all the animals on the farm together before and after the rebellion. Fighting bravely in the Battle of Cowshed, Boxer loses his life by working incessantly without rest.
The cruel pigs of the farm send him to Knacker’s yard to be slaughtered in order to get some money and personal favours. Boxer leads a simple and honest life and dies by fighting bravely in the revolt against human beings.
Benjamin: the Friendly Donkey
The oldest animal on the farm, Benjamin is a wise and educated donkey who can read well. He represents the sceptical people of Russia who do not believe in the benefits of Communism. He becomes outrageous when the pigs leave his friend Boxer to die in the yard.
After the death of his dear friend, Boxer, Benjamin becomes cynical and does not behave well with other animals on the farm. He is one of the animals who remains alive at the end of the novel. Read more about Benjamin.
An amalgamation of humans and animals, the characters in Animal Farm signify the importance of Communism and Socialism as opposed to Totalitarianism.
These characters, depicting the need for equality and freedom for animals and human beings, make the novel worth-reading through their actions and dialogues.
Beasts of England, beasts of Ireland,
Beasts of every land and clime,
Hearken to my joyful tidings
Of the golden future time.
Soon or late the day is coming,
Tyrant Man shall be o'erthrown,
And the fruitful fields of England
Shall be trod by beasts alone.
Rings shall vanish from our noses,
And the harness from our back,
Bit and spur shall rust forever,
Cruel whips shall no more crack.
For that day we all must labour,
Though we die before it break;
Cows and horses, geese and turkeys,
All must toils for freedom's sake.