Napoleon is a metaphor for Stalin. Napoleon is the villain of the book and uses the revolution and the power he gains for his own selfish desires. Orwell felt Stalin had corrupted the revolution in Russia and used it to his own advantage.
Even the name Napoleon is important, as Napoleon Bonaparte the famous French General had risen to power and became a dictator in the 19th century on the back of the events of the French revolution. Napoleon Bonaparte rose to power on the back of revolution against the establishment, a revolution of ideals, much like Napoleon the pig does in the book.
In the book Napoleon has many of the other animals executed after they ‘confess’ to their crimes. On page 56 the text reads ‘Napoleon now called upon them to confess their crimes. They were the same four pigs as had protested when Napoleon abolished the Sunday Meetings. Without any further prompting they confessed that they had been secretly in touch with Snowball ever since his expulsion, that they had collaborated with him in destroying the windmill, ... When they had finished their confession the dogs promptly tore their throats out,’. This is an allusion to the show trials by Stalin in Russia in the 1930s where political opponents were eliminated after an apparent trial and confession, many of the confessions involved them working with Trotsky against the Soviet Union.
As the narrative develops Napoleon’s rule becomes more and more cruel, and he becomes a dictator, using terror and propaganda to control the other animals and prevent a second revolt against him. While at the same time he and the other pigs become more and more like Jones and take on many human traits.
Snowball is an allegory for Trotsky, one of Stalin’s biggest political rivals in Russia in the 1920s, before Stalin exiled him from the USSR in 1927. Like Trotsky, Snowball in Animal Farm is also exiled as a result of being a political rival and a threat to Napoleon’s power, page 31 ‘These two disagreed at every point where disagreement was possible.’ Despite this a reader should not view this as Orwell simply presenting us with good and evil, Snowball is portrayed as being quite ruthless himself. When Boxer expresses regret at killing a human being Snowball says on page 28 “ War is war. The only good human being is a dead one.’’ This may be a reference to Trotsky’s ruthlessness while turning the Red Army into an effective fighting force in the Russian Civil War.
In the book in the Battle of the Cowshed which is an allusion to the Russian Civil War, Snowball shows military leadership page 26 reads ‘Snowball, who had studied an old book of Julius Caesar’s campaigns which he had found in the farmhouse, was in charge of the defensive operations.’ Under Snowball’s leadership the animals win the battle and Snowball is rewarded with the medal ‘Animal Hero, First Class’ for his actions.
Snowball is eventually chased off the farm by Napoleon’s dogs, a reference to the fact Stalin had Trotsky exiled from the Soviet Union for the threat he represented to Stalin’s power. As discussed in the main essay the Snowball in the book is a more sympathetic character than the Snowball in the film. This is one of the differences between the two texts.
Squealer is one of the book’s most enigmatic characters; he is Napoleon’s right hand man. Squealer probably represents Pravda, a newspaper in the USSR that was widely used by Stalin for propaganda purposes. In his description on page 9 he is said to be ‘a brilliant talker, ... The others said of Squealer that he could turn black into white.’ It is he who uses the sheep’s slogans to put help drown out any voices of opposition to Napoleon. Pages 31 and 32 ‘Of late the sheep had taken to bleating ‘Four legs good, two legs bad’ both in and out of season, and they often interrupted the Meeting with this.’ The sheep represent the masses that can be easily manipulated.
He is the ultimate propagandist, when the animals complain of the pigs greedily hoarding the milk and apples Squealer on page 23 responds ‘’Our sole object in taking these things is to preserve our health. ... We pigs are the brainworkers. ... It is for your sake that we drink that milk and eat those apples. Do you know what would happen if we pigs failed in our duty? Jones would come back!’’ He effectively uses the animals’ fear of Jones to justify the pigs taking more and more luxuries for themselves. It is also Squealer who alters the commandments.
Major is the first character in the book to be described and the line on page 1 reads ‘He was twelve years old and had lately grown rather stout, but he was still a majestic-looking pig, with a wise and benevolent appearance in spite of the fact that his tushes had never been cut.’ (A tush is a canine tooth.) It is Major who gives the animals the philosophy of animalism and the rules by which they are to live, which become the seven commandments that the animals later paint on the barn. Major is the book’s equivalent to Lenin; here Orwell diverges from Russian history, in the book Major dies before the uprising on the farm happens, while in reality Lenin lived long enough to see the Tsar overthrown. Perhaps Orwell’s reason for doing this was that in part the character of Major also represents Karl Marx, who was the founder of socialism and was dead before the Russian Revolution. Major’s skull is put on display by the animals in the book, much like how Lenin’s body was put on display in Moscow after his death.
The dogs represent the secret police or the NKVD in the Soviet Union. The dogs are important to Napoleon in maintaining his power and preventing another revolution overthrowing him. They carry out Napoleons executions and enforce his decrees on the animals. On pages 35 and 36 it is the dogs that eliminate the greatest threat to Napoleon’s power as ‘nine enormous dogs wearing brass-studded collars came bounding into the barn. They dashed straight for Snowball, who only sprang from his place just in time to escape their snapping jaws. ... He was running as only a pig can run, ... he put on an extra spurt and, with a few inches to spare slipped through a hole in the hedge and was seen no more.’ For their loyalty the dogs are treated better and fed better by the pigs than the other animals on the farm. They are part of Napoleon’s campaign of terror to maintain is control over the farm.
Jones is the Tsar of Russia Nicholas II and is portrayed as a poor manager of the farm, though Orwell wrote on page 11 ‘Mr Jones, although a hard master, had been a capable farmer, but of late had fallen on evil days. ... and had taken to drinking more than was good for him.’ This would be a reference to how Russia though once a great power had declined in the years leading up to the Russian Revolution and had suffered greatly in the First World War. Major in his speech on page 4 says ‘Man is the only creature that consumes without producing.’ Major is talking not just about Jones, but about mankind, this is clearly an anti-capitalist sentiment in the book. Major is echoing Marx and his ideas that the capitalists and the rich take from the workers, but do not produce themselves.
Boxer represents the workers, those who worked hard under both the new and old regimes in Russia and on the farm in the book and whose dedication is never rewarded. He represents in part the ‘Stakhanovite movement’ in USSR, a labour movement which was dedicated to making known individuals who had worked very hard, the movement was supported by the Communist Party in the USSR as a means to increase productivity. Boxer in part represents Alexsei Stakhanovite, for whom the movement was named and who reportedly in one shift at his coal mined many times the normal coal quota. Boxer in the book and in the film pays the ultimate sacrifice for his unquestioning loyalty to Napoleon and the pigs. Boxer’s female equivalent is Clover, another horse, who though she is somewhat more intelligent than Boxer is also unable to see the pigs for the tyrants they are.
Benjamin is one Animal Farm’s more complex characters, there is no obvious metaphor between Benjamin and Russian history or communism. Some have identified him as Orwell himself, although he is totally unmoved by the revolution and is apolitical, traits which would make him unlikely to be Orwell. He may represent the older generation who have no interest in the revolution and are cynical as to its possible benefits. On page 2 his description by the narrator is that ‘Benjamin was the oldest animal on the farm, and the worst tempered. He seldom talked, and when he did it was usually to make some cynical remark’. Benjamin cares openly for only one other animal, Boxer and tries but fails to prevent him being taken away from the farm to his death. In the film it is Benjamin ,angered over Boxer’s death, who leads to the revolt against the pigs, however in the book as there is no second revolution he has no such central role.
Moses is clearly a metaphor for the Russian Orthodox Church, who Orwell saw as a political tool of the state. He leaves the farm with Jones, but as the pigs become more corrupt he reappears. He tells the animals on page 78 of “Sugarcandy Mountain, that happy country where we poor animals shall rest for ever from our labours!’’ Though the pigs say Moses is a liar they allow him to remain on the farm and on page 79 ‘with an allowance of a gill of beer a day.’ The pigs see Moses as useful to their totalitarian rule as Stalin did in the USSR with the Russian Orthodox Church. Orwell seems to have had a cynical view of the Church.
Frederick is the book’s representation of Hitler and Nazi Germany, the timber deal is clearly an allegory for the Nazi-Soviet pact between Hitler and Stalin which had stunned the world when it was announced in 1939. The animals on page 66 ‘were struck dumb with surprise when Napoleon announced that he had sold the pile of timber to Frederick. Tomorrow Frederick’s wagons would arrive and begin carting it away.’ It is on page 68 we find out that Frederick had cheated Napoleon using forged bank-notes to pay for the timber; on this same page we learn ‘The very next morning the attack came.’ The attack by Frederick and his men which the animals repel with heavy losses in the Battle of the Windmill in the book; is equivalent to Hitler’s invasion of the USSR in 1941 and the great suffering and losses the Russian people endured to repel it. Orwell mentions that Frederick was very cruel towards his animals; this may be a reference to the Holocaust and other atrocities that happened in Germany under Hitler’s rule. Napoleon in trading with Frederick also breaks yet another of Major rules which had forbade trade with man. Frederick does not appear in the film as an identified character. Although the invasion he carried out in the book does appear in the film, it is made up of farmhands, with no clear leader identified.
Pilkington represents the western allies of Britain and the United States, Stalin after being invaded by Hitler looked to the western allies for help. He has been specifically linked to Winston Churchill. His description on page 24 reads ‘Its owner, Mr Pilkington, was an easy-going gentleman-farmer who spent most of his time in fishing or hunting according to the season.’ Just as in the book Napoleon sides with Pilkington after Frederick attacks him. At the end of the book Pilkington is one of the farmers Napoleon invites to the farm for a tour of inspection. Pilkington gives a toast and says on page 92 of Napoleon’s and the pigs’ management of the farm that ‘He believed that he was right in saying that the lower animals on Animal Farm did more work and received less food than any animals in the country.’ In one of Orwell’s greatest prophecies on page 95 the reader finds the text reads ‘Yes, a violent quarrel was in progress. ... The source of the trouble appeared to be that Napoleon and Mr Pilkington had played an ace of spades simultaneously.’ The men and pigs have caught each other cheating at cards and have begun to fight. Orwell seems to have predicted in the 1944 the breakdown of the good relations between the USSR under Stalin and the western allies that would occur in the late 1940s and lead to the beginning of the Cold War. Pilkington does not appear in the film, though various good and kind farmers are shown.
While the pigeons are not a singular character they should not be overlooked, the pigeons represent the Soviet Union’s propaganda to the rest of the world. The Soviet Union under Stalin frequently boasted of great achievements both economically and socially. In the book Snowball and Napoleon use the pigeons to spread propaganda and send messages to other farms.
Mollie is one of the minor characters in the book, described on page 2 as ‘the foolish, pretty white mare who drew Mr Jones’s trap,’ she represents the section of society that was privileged before the Russian Revolution and goes on to lose its status under the new regime. After the Russian Revolution many people who had been members of the middle and upper classes under the Tsar’s rule left the country, as they had no interest in sacrificing their living standards under the ‘equality’ of communism. Mollie doesn’t oppose the regime on political or ideological grounds, but opposes it as she cannot keep her lumps of sugar or comfortable life and her ribbons or symbols of social status within the new regime. Orwell shows how socialism is not perfect and it does not suit all factions of society. Mollie is unhappy at being at the same level as Boxer and Clover; Mollie eventually runs away from the farm. Mollie does not appear in the film version; her character was removed from the story along with several other minor characters.