Animal Farm Characters



Napoleon doesn’t fight in the revolution 

  • Napoleon doesn’t say much in the early meetings, but he has a “reputation” for getting what he wants. This shows that he seems to care less about Animalism then the others, and hints that he’s ambitious and selfish. 
  • At the Battle of the Cowshed he disappears - he’s a coward. This contracts with Snowball who fights bravely to defend the farm.

He's a ruthless character

Napoleon doesn’t care about the welfare of the other animals and just uses them for his own benefit:

  • He adopts the puppies, but only so that he can train them to be his army.
  • He forced the animals to work a 60-hour week while he does nothing.
  • He steals the apples and cows’ milk for the pigs to have for themselves. 
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Napoleon uses cunning and brutality to get his own way 

  • Napoleon is threatened by Snowball, who is a military hero and a charismatic leader.
  • Napoleon belittles and undermines Snowball. He trains the sheep to interrupt Snowball’s speeches and urinates on his plans for the windmill. 
  • After his exile, Napoleon uses Snowball as a scapegoat for any problems on the farm. The way that he turns the animals against Snowball is cunning. 
  • He uses terror to control the farm. Animals are forced to make false confessions and are executed for being in league with Snowball.

He’s just as bad as Farmer Jones 

  • Napoleon’s tradition from pig to ‘human’ is complete by the end of the novel - he stands on two legs, drinks whisky, and wears clothes. When the animals look at the pigs and men, they can’t say “which was which”.
  • By the end, the commandments and principles of Animalism have been forgotten - the animals are starving and overworked and in a worse position than they were under before.
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Napoleon (3/3)

Napoleon is a selfish leader...

  • Napoleon sees himself as better than the other animals and above the common herd.
  • He changes the principles of Animalism for his own benefit, e.g. “No animal shall drink alcohol to excess”. It shows that he quickly forgets any ideals of Animalism that he may have believed.
  • Although he criticises Snowball’s plans for the windmill, he builds it after Snowball’s exile. He’s happy to take the credit for someone else’s ideas.

...and a corrupt leader

  • Napoleon rewrites history - he distorts the story of the Battle of the Cowshed to make himself seem like a hero. He awards himself a bravery medal and presents Snowball as a traitor. 
  • The Sunday meetings are abolished to suppress debate and criticism towards him.
  • He is “unanimously” elected as the leader of the Republic but he is the only candidate.
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Snowball (1/4)

Snowball is intelligent but not very cunning 

1. Snowball is lively and a quick thinker, but he doesn’t have “the same depth of a character” as Napoleon.

2. Animal equality and the ‘working class’ animals are important to him. He explains the principles  of Animalism for the others so that they can improve life on Animal Farm.

3. He is an original thinker - he explains to the birds that a wing “is an organ of propulsion”. He’s got good intentions, but the birds don’t understand Snowball’s complicated explanations.

4. Snowball isn’t perfect though: 

  • He’s over-idealistic - he forms animal committees but generally these end in failure.
  • He’s dishonest - when Napoleon steals the milk for the pigs, Snowball doesn’t protest.
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Snowball (2/4)

He’s brave and a strong military leader 

  • Snowball wants Major’s utopian vision to become a reality.
  • He writes the seven commandments on the barn wall for all the animals to see, but most of the animals are illiterate.
  • He draws up plans for the windmill - a project designed to generate electricity for the farm to make the animals’ lives easier.
  • His plan would require the animals to work hard but the windmill would benefit everyone.

He wants animalism to succeed

  • Snowball is a strong leader in battle. When Jones and his allies attack, Snowball has prepared by studying the campaigns of Caesar.
  • He’s noble. He leads the charge against the humans and is injured. He proves he’s willing to die for Animalism.
  • For his bravery he is recognised as a hero by all the animals, and awarded the military honour, ‘Animal Hero, First Class’, for his role in the Battle of the Cowshed.
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Snowball (3/4)

Snowball is undermined by Napoleon 

1. They can’t agree - Snowball wants to encourage all animals on all farms to rebel, but Napoleon wants to build up power and security on Animal Farm.

2. Snowball is an excellent speaker but Napoleon is better at “canvassing support for himself” outside the debates.

3. Napoleon is threatened by Snowball’s heroism, intelligence and influence over the other animals, and so he brings to bully him:

  • Napoleon trains the sheep to disrupt Snowball’s speeches.
  • When Snowball draws up the windmill plans, Napoleon shows his contempt by urinating all over them.
  • Snowball is chased off the farm by Napoleon’s dogs.
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Snowball (4/4)

He becomes a scapegoat

1. After Snowball is exiled from Animal Farm, Napoleon begins to gain power. He spreads vicious rumours and lies about the threat of Snowball to safeguard his own position.

2. Snowball is condemned as a traitor, a liar and a friend of Farmer Jones.

3. He becomes a scapegoat - when the windmill is blown down in a storm, Snowball is blamed. He becomes the “source  of all evil” on the farm. 

4. Napoleon denounces Snowball as a dangerous outside enemy, and puts himself forward as the protector of Animal Farm

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Squealer (1/5)

Squealer is a remorseless liar 

  • Squealer is a small, fat porker with "twinkling eyes" and a "shrill voice".  
  • He spends the novel promoting Napoleon's regime-distorting language and telling lies.  
  • He's protected by vicious dogs, who scare the other animals into silence.

He helps to create and maintain dictatorship

  • He helps to build up Napoleon’s oppressive, murderous dictatorship.
  • With Squealer’s help, Animal Farm becomes a more efficient state of terror.
  • It’s a new class-based hierarchy where the interests of the pigs are put first.
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Squealer (2/5)

He uses persuasive language to justify Napoleon’s actions 

1. When Napoleon is the leader of Animal Farm, Squealer becomes his loyal spokesperson. 

2. He uses convincing language to win over the other animals. He tells them that, "No one believes more firmly than Napoleon" in the equality of animals. 

3. He manipulates the animals' fear of Jones in order to increase Napoleon's power. He asks them, "you do not want Jones back?" to make it seem like they only have a choice between the two.

4. Squealer has an answer for everything. When all the animals have their rations reduced except the pigs and dogs, Squealer explains that rigid equality is “contrary” to Animalism.

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Squealer (3/5)

Squealer controls the animals with lies 

Squealer manipulates the animals through his clever use of language, distorting the truth to convince them that life is better on Animal Farm. 

  • He uses false statistics to claim that life is good on the farm: he "proved" to the animals in detail that they had more food than before the Rebellion. 
  • Squealer lies - he claims that the Battle of the Windmill was a great victory - though the animals suffered terrible losses and the windmill was even destroyed. 
  • He rewrites history. He turns Napoleon into the hero at the Battle of the Cowshed by saying things like "Comrade Napoleon sprang forward... and sank his teeth into Jones's leg".
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Squealer (4/5)

Squealer turns the animals against Snowball 

  • Squealer plays an important role in destroying Snowball's  reputation and turning the other animals against him. 
  • When he suggests that Snowball's agents are "lurking among us at this moment", he's scaremongering.  
  • He makes up evidence against Snowball. He says Snowball was "Jones's secret agent" and it's been "proved by documents". 
  • He convinces the animals that Snowball was a traitor at the Battle of the Cowshed and that Snowball was never awarded 'Animal Hero, First Class'.
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Squealer (5/5)

He lies about Boxer’s death 

1. The ageing Boxer is betrayed and sold to the knacker's yard to be killed.  

2. Squealer's lies about the death of Boxer are more fanciful than ever.  

3. He describes Boxer's death in great sentimental detail, even thought it’s completely made up. He claims that Boxer's last words were, "Napoleon is always right". This shows that he is completely remorseless, willing to abuse Boxer's unfailing loyalty to Napoleon to the end.  

4. He says that Napoleon did all he could for Boxer, providing medicine "without a thought as to the cost". This is ironic because Napoleon's only real concern was how much money the pigs could make by selling Boxer. 

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Old Major

Old Major has a vision

  • Old Major is the oldest, wisest pig on the farm.
  • He dreams of a future where all animals live in a land of happiness and plenty, free from the exploitation of man. 
  • He's aware that he's near death and has a clear mission to pass on his wisdom.

His ideas for the future are clear 

  • 1. When old Major gives his speech, he talks about Man's terrible treatment of animals. He says, "our lives are miserable, laborious and short". 
  • 2. Old Major's vision becomes the foundation of Animalism: 
  • He insists that all animals are "comrades" - they are all equal. 
  • Man is the enemy and animals must never come to resemble him. 
  • Before his death he sets out a number of clear rules against adopting human vices such as living in houses, sleeping in beds, wearing clothes and drinking alcohol. 
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 Unlike Major, Benjamin is cynical

  • Benjamin is a grumpy, bad-tempered donkey who never laughs because "he saw nothing to laugh at". He's cynical about the rebellion and Animalism.  
  • He's very intelligent, and one of the few literate animals but he sees little point in using his abilities. 
  • Benjamin has a true understanding of life on Animal Farm. He's realistic when he sees “Hardship and disappointment" all around him, but he doesn't do anything to stop the pigs. This could suggest that Orwell is disappointed that many people seem unwilling or unable to challenge a tyrannical leader. 
  • When he realises what's happening to Boxer, he raises the alarm. This is an important turning point for Benjamin it's the first time that he speaks out but he reacts too late.
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Boxer (1/2)

Boxer is brave and hardworking 

  • Boxer is the hardest worker on the farm - all the farm's work seemed "to rest upon his mighty shoulders". 
  • He is as strong "as any two horses put together". 
  • At the Battle of the Cowshed he fights bravely and is awarded 'Animal Hero, First Class'.
  • The animals respect Boxer for his calm, stable manner and his tremendous ability to work.
  • Boxer gets upset when he thinks he's killed a human boy during the Battle of the Cowshed. This shows that he's compassionate.

He trusts the pigs completely

  • Boxer isn’t very bright and he’s easily manipulated by the pigs.
  • After Napoleon’s show trials and executions, Boxer has misgivings about the pigs’ behaviour but he remains silent - continuing to believe in Napoleon.
  • He’s a useful tool for the pigs - if Boxer’s on their side then the other animals may follow more easily. 
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Boxer (2/2)

Boxer is betrayed by Napoleon 

1. After the Battle of the Windmill, Boxer is injured but he refuses to lighten his load. He's determined to build the windmill, however hard it is. 

2. When he collapses and is taken ill, he believes that he will get a happy retirement. 

3. He thinks he is being sent to the vet for treatment but Napoleon sells him to the knacker's yard so that the pigs can get money for whisky.

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Clover is a mother figure 

1. She is a compassionate, maternal mare. When the animals were frightened, they "huddled about Clover". 

2. She is a loyal and faithful disciple of Animalism, absorbing and passing on all that she is taught. When she grows suspicious of the pigs' behaviour, she blames herself for misremembering the commandments. 

3. Even when Animalism disappoints her, "these scenes of terror and slaughter were not what they had looked forward to", she continues to be obedient and accepts Napoleon's leadership.

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Mollie is vain and silly 

  • Mollie's a "pretty white mare" who's vain and "foolish". 
  • She is spoiled and likes ribbons, sugar and being petted things which are banned under Animalism. 
  • She has no interest in politics or the rebellion. She's cowardly and unwilling to fight for Animal Farm. She hides in fear during the Battle of the Cowshed.

She refuses to make sacrifices after the revolution

  • Mollie struggles to follow the principles of Animalism and hoards ribbons and lump sugar. In a selfish way she's not willing to make sacrifices. 
  • When Snowball teaches the animals to read and write, Mollie has the capacity to become literate but she only learns the letters which spell her name. She isn't interested in what the rebellion can teach her. 
  • Mollie can't adapt to life on Animal Farm - she's too shallow and devoted to her luxuries. She runs away to draw the cart of a man who pets her and feeds her sugar. 
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Jones’ neglect causes the animals to rebel

1. Mr Jones is the owner of Manor Farm. He’s a lazy drunkard.

2. His men are “idle”, “dishonest” and they take advantage of Jones’ slackness. Under Jones, the fields of Manor Farm are “full of weeds” and the animals are “underfed”.

3. Jones’ neglect and drunkenness allow the animals to meet and organise themselves in secret - he was “too drunk to remember” to lock them up properly.

4. When the animals revel, it’s a spontaneous event and even the animals are surprised by their success. This shows how little control Jones has over his farm.

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Pilkington, Frederick & Whymper

Pilkington and Frederick represent the West 

  • Pilkington is an old-fashioned gentleman-Farmer whose farm is shabby and neglected.
  • Frederick has a smaller, better farm. He’s “tough”, “shrewd” and always “involved in lawsuits”. There are rumours about cruelty on his farm.
  • Frederick leads a surprise attack on Animal Farm which is sudden and vicious. He almost overthrows the animals and is only driven off after the animals suffer terrible losses and the windmill is blown up. 

Whymper is in it for the money 

  • Whymper is Napoleon’s solicitor and representative in his dealings with other humans.
  • Whymper is a “sharp” businessman who realised that Napoleon’s business “would be worth having”.
  • He only agrees to work for Animal Farm because Napoleon tricks him into thinking the farm is prosperous. 
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The Sheep & Hens

The sheep can’t think for themselves 

  • The sheep live up to their traditional stereotype - unthinking and easily led.
  • They can’t think for themselves and blindly follow the pigs’ orders. They start chanting whenever anyone threatens to voice an opinion.
  • In the end, the sheep silence all opposition and announce the final betrayal of Animalism, chanting “Four legs good, two legs better!”

The hens are oppressed by Napoleon

  • Once he’s in power, Napoleon orders the hens to give up their eggs so they can be sold. Trading with humans was something Major opposed in his speech.
  • When they’re told to supply 400 eggs a week, they protest.
  • They’re the only group of animals to really oppose Napoleon’s regime. When they stage a protest, Napoleon starves them into submission.
  • When egg quotas are raised again, there’s no outcry or protest this time - they’re too frightened to even raise their voices.
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Moses stands for religion 

1. Moses is a raven who tells the animals stories of Sugarcandy Mountain - a paradise where animals go when they die.

2. He tells lies and is described as a “spy” but many of the animals believe him because they have nothing else to look forward to.

3. The pigs allow Moses to stay on Animal Farm because his stories give the animals hope and keep them obedient.

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