Character Profiles -
Mr. Jones: Mr. Jones is Orwell's chief (or at least most obvious) villain in Animal Farm. Of course Napoleon is also the major villain, however much more indirectly. Orwell says that at one time Jones was actually a decent master to his animals. At this time the farm was thriving. But in recent years the farm had fallen on harder times (symbol of the world-wide Great Depression of the 30's) and the opportunity was seen to revolt. The world-wide depression began in the United States when the stock market crashed in October of 1929. The depression spread throughout the world because American exports were so dependent on Europe. The U.S. was also a major contributor to the world market economy. Germany along with the rest of Europe was especially hit hard. The parallels between crop failure of the farm and the depression in the 1930's are clear. Only the leaders and the die-hard followers ate their fill during this time period.
Mr. Jones symbolizes (in addition to the evils of capitalism) Czar Nicholas II, the leader before Stalin (Napoleon). Jones represents the old government, the last of the Czars. Orwell suggests that Jones (Czar Nicholas II) was losing his "edge." In fact, he and his men had taken up the habit of drinking. Old Major reveals his feelings about Jones and his administration when he says, "Man is the only creature that consumes without producing. He does not give milk, he does not lay eggs, he is too weak to pull the plough , he cannot run fast enough to catch rabbits. Yet he is lord of all the animals. He sets them to work, he gives back to them the bare minimum that will prevent them from starving and the rest he keeps for himself."
So Jones and the old government are successfully uprooted by the animals. Little do they know, history will repeat itself with Napoleon and the pigs.
Old Major: Old Major is the first major character described by Orwell in Animal Farm. This "purebred" of pigs is the kind, grand fatherly philosopher of change— an obvious metaphor for Karl Marx. Old Major proposes a solution to the animals' desperate plight under the Jones "administration" when he inspires a rebellion of sorts among the animals. Of course the actual time of the revolt is unsaid. It could be the next day or several generations down the road. But old Major's philosophy is only an ideal.
After his death, three days after the barn-yard speech, the socialism he professes is drastically altered when Napoleon and the other pigs begin to dominate. It's interesting that Orwell does not mention Napoleon or Snowball anytime during the great speech of old Major. This shows how distant and out-of-touch they really were; the ideals old Major proclaimed seemed to not even have been considered when they were establishing their new government after the succesful revolt. It almost seemed as though the pigs fed off…