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Animal Farm Character Analysis
Get to know the key characters in Animal Farm by looking at their character profiles and essays!
When the story begins, Napoleon and Snowball act in unison, but it quickly becomes clear that they disagree about almost everything. This was the case with Stalin and Trotsky. Early on in Animal Farm Napoleon takes the puppies and trains them secretly, this is before The Battle of the Cowshed- in which Snowball’s role is central. He unleashes the dogs (the Secret police) when Snowball is about to unveil his plans for the windmill. Snowball is nearly killed and runs for his life. Similarly, Stalin had Trotsky expelled from the Soviet Union and later had him murdered. From this point on Napoleon cements his power, becoming absolute ruler. Through Squealer he convinces the animals that the windmill was his own invention. He makes deals with Frederick (Hitler), until Frederick attacks the farm. Napoleon’s hold on power only increases after the “victory.” Just like Stalin, he rules through terror, and the more time passes, the less the animals can remember of what the rebellion was supposed to mean. At the end of the novel Orwell shows him drinking alcohol, walking upright, carrying a whip and smoking a pipe. It is clear that he has become just like Jones, and that only the pigs have benefited from the rebellion. One animal is definitely more equal than the others!
Snowball has quicker wits than Napoleon, but he cannot compete with his ruthlessness. Like Trotsky, he likes to talk and draw up complicated plans, which Napoleon ignores until it suits him to adopt them as his own. Snowball is as shocked as anyone when the dogs nearly kill him. From then on his role in the story is to be blamed for anything that goes wrong. He is the convenient scapegoat. He even has his own life story re-told so that the wounds on his back caused by Jones’s shotgun at The Battle of the Cowshed become marks “inflicted by Napoleon’s teeth.” His fate mirrors Trotsky’s, whose role in the Civil War that followed the 1917 Revolution was central, becomes a reviled traitor in Stalin’s Soviet Union.
A squealer is a slang term for someone who informs on others. There is also the common expression: to squeal like a pig. Squealer carries out what Orwell elsewhere called “organised lying”. He is the apologist for Napoleon, and is based on Stalin’s propaganda chief, Molotov. Right at the start of the story, Squealer is described as being able to “turn black into white.” This is seen when he convinces the animals that the pigs dislike milk and apples but need them for brain-work; that Snowball was in fact a traitor at The Battle of the Cowshed, and that Napoleon “had seemed to oppose the windmill, simply as a manoeuvre to get rid of Snowball.” Whenever there’s a danger of dissent he reminds the animals that they don’t want Jones back and that “Napoleon is always right.” he also reels off tons of statistics proving that they have more food, live longer and drink cleaner water than in Jones’ day. The first pig the animals see walking on hind legs is Squealer.
Boxer represents the great strength and resilience of the ordinary Russian people – “Nothing could have been achieved without Boxer.” Without him the windmill would never be built and Frederick would have captured the farm – “there were days when the entire work of the farm seemed to rest upon his mighty shoulders.” Despite this, Boxer is also gullible and easily manipulated. If doubts arise he asserts “Napoleon is always right!” This leads him to accept that Snowball was always Jones’ agent, even against his own memory. After The Battle of the Windmill he begins to grow older and weaker, and there is no sign of the promised retirement and pension. Instead he is tricked into thinking he is going for medical treatment, when in fact he is carried off in the van of a Horse Slaughterer. Squealer insists he has died in hospital, his last words being “Long live Comrade Napoleon! Napoleon is always right.” The animals believe this, especially when there is a special ceremony in Boxer’s honour, at which Napoleon reminds them of Boxer’s favourite saying: “I will work harder.”