Animal Farm is a novel, written to portray Revolution.
- Napoleon - The main pig who emerges as the leader of Animal Farm after the Rebellion. Based on Joseph Stalin, Napoleon used military force (his nine loyal attack dogs) to intimidate the other animals and consolidate his power. In his supreme craftiness, Napoleon proves more treacherous than his counterpart, Snowball. Napoleon also symbolises the evil character.
- Snowball - The pig who challenges Napoleon for control of Animal Farm after the Rebellion. Based on Leon Trotsky, Snowball is intelligent, passionate, eloquent, and less subtle and devious than his counterpart, Napoleon. Snowball seems to win the loyalty of the other animals and cement his power.
- Boxer - The black horse whose incredible strength, dedication, and loyalty play a key role in the early prosperity of Animal Farm and the later completion of the windmill. Quick to help but rather slow-witted, Boxer shows much devotion to Animal Farm's ideals but little ability to think about them independently. He naively trusts the pigs to make all his decisions for him. His two mottoes are “I will work harder” and “Napoleon is always right.” Boxer is later killed and his body parts sold. He represents the working class.
- Squealer - The pig who spreads Napoleon's propaganda among the other animals. Squealer justifies the pigs' monopolization of resources and spreads false statistics pointing to the farm's success. Orwell uses Squealer to explore the ways in which those in power often use rhetoric and language to twist the truth and gain and maintain social and political control.
- Old Major - The prize-winning boar whose vision of a socialist utopia serves as the inspiration for the Rebellion. Three days after describing the vision and teaching the animals the song “Beasts of England,” Major dies, leaving Snowball and Napoleon to struggle for control of his legacy. Orwell based Major on both the German political economist Karl Marx and the Russian revolutionary leader Vladimir Lenin.
- Clover - A good-hearted female cart-horse and Boxer's close friend. Clover often suspects the pigs of violating one or another of the Seven Commandments, but she repeatedly blames herself for dismembering the commandments.
- Moses - The tame raven who spreads stories of Sugarcandy Mountain, the paradise to which animals supposedly go when they die. Moses plays only a small role in Animal Farm, but Orwell uses him to explore how communism exploits religion as something with which to pacify the oppressed.
- Mollie - The vain, flighty mare who pulls Mr. Jones's carriage. Mollie craves the attention of human beings and loves being groomed and pampered. She has a difficult time with her new life on Animal Farm, as she misses wearing ribbons in her mane and eating sugar cubes. She represents the petite bourgeoisie (Lower Middle Class) that fled from Russia a few years after the Russian Revolution.
- Benjamin - The long-lived donkey who refuses to feel inspired by the Rebellion. Benjamin firmly believes that life will remain unpleasant no matter who is in charge. Of all of the animals on the farm, he alone comprehends the changes that take place, but he seems either unwilling or unable to oppose the pigs. It's possible that Benjamin represents the intelligent citizens who saw what was happening, but knew that life would not improve under Stalin's rule.
- Muriel - The white goat who reads the Seven Commandments to Clover whenever Clover suspects the pigs of violating their prohibitions.
- Mr. Jones - The often drunk farmer who runs the Manor Farm before the animals stage their Rebellion and establish Animal Farm. Mr. Jones is an unkind master who indulges himself while his animals lack food; he thus represents Czar Nicholas II, whom the Russian Revolution ousted.
- Mr. Frederick - The tough, shrewd operator of Pinchfield, a neighbouring farm. Based on Adolf Hitler, the ruler of Nazi Germany in the 1930's and 1940's, Mr. Frederick proves an untrustworthy neighbour.
- Mr. Pilkington - The easygoing gentleman farmer who runs Foxwood, a neighbouring farm. Mr. Frederick's bitter enemy, Mr. Pilkington represents the capitalist governments of England and the United States.
- Mr. Whymper - The human solicitor whom Napoleon hires to represent Animal Farm in human society. Mr. Whymper's entry into the Animal Farm community initiates contact between Animal Farm and human society, alarming the common animals. He represents the capitalists in the USSR, here only for money.
- Jessie and Bluebell - Two dogs, each of whom gives birth early in the novel. Napoleon takes the puppies in order to “educate” them. The dogs represent the secret police force that Stalin had.
- Minimus - The poet pig who writes verse about Napoleon and pens the banal patriotic song “Animal Farm, Animal Farm” to replace the earlier idealistic hymn “Beasts of England,” which Old Major passes on to the others.
Old Major (a prize-winning boar) gathers the animals of the Manor Farm for a meeting in the big barn. He tells them of a dream he has had in which all animals live together with no human beings to oppress or control them. He tells the animals that they must work toward such a paradise and teaches them a song called “Beasts of England,” in which his dream vision is lyrically described. The animals greet Major's vision with great enthusiasm. When he dies only three nights after the meeting, three younger pigs (Snowball, Napoleon, and Squealer) formulate his main principles into a philosophy called Animalism. Late one night, the animals manage to defeat the farmer Mr. Jones in a battle, running him off the land. They rename the property Animal Farm and dedicate themselves to achieving Major's dream. The cart-horse, Boxer, devotes himself to the cause with particular zeal, committing his great strength to the prosperity of the farm, and adopting as a personal maxim the affirmation “I will work harder.” At first, Animal Farm prospers. Snowball works at teaching the animals to read, and Napoleon takes a group of young puppies to educate them in the principles of Animalism. When Mr. Jones reappears to take back his farm, the animals defeat him again, in what comes to be known as the Battle of the Cowshed, and take the farmer's abandoned gun as a token of their victory. As time passes, however, Napoleon and Snowball increasingly quibble over the future of the farm, and they begin to struggle with each other for power and influence among the other animals. Snowball concocts a scheme to build an electricity-generating windmill, but Napoleon solidly opposes the plan. At the meeting to vote on whether to take up the project, Snowball gives a passionate speech. Although Napoleon gives only a brief retort, he then makes a strange noise, and nine attack dogs—the puppies that Napoleon had confiscated in order to “educate”—burst into the barn and chase Snowball from the farm. Napoleon assumes leadership of Animal Farm and declares that there will be no more meetings. From that point on, he asserts, the pigs alone will make all of the decisions—for the good of every animal. Napoleon now quickly changes his mind about the windmill, and the animals, especially Boxer, devote their efforts to completing it. One day, after a storm, the animals find the windmill toppled. The human farmers in the area declare smugly that the animals made the walls too thin, but Napoleon claims that Snowball returned to the farm to sabotage the windmill. He stages a great purge, during which various animals who have allegedly participated in Snowball's great conspiracy—meaning any animal who opposes Napoleon's uncontested leadership—meet instant death at the teeth of the attack dogs. With his leadership unquestioned (Boxer has taken up a second maxim, “Napoleon is always right”), Napoleon begins expanding his powers, rewriting history to make Snowball a villain. Napoleon also begins to act more and more like a human being—sleeping in a bed, drinking whisky, and engaging in trade with neighbouring farmers. The original Animalist principles strictly forbade such activities, but Squealer, Napoleon's propagandist, justifies every action to the other animals, convincing them that Napoleon is a great, tireless leader and is making things better for everyone—despite the fact that the common animals are cold, hungry, and overworked. Mr. Frederick, a neighbouring farmer, cheats Napoleon in the purchase of some timber and then attacks the farm and dynamites the windmill, which had been rebuilt at great expense. After the demolition of the windmill, a pitched battle ensues, during which Boxer receives major wounds. The animals rout the farmers, but Boxer's injuries weaken him. When he later falls while working on the windmill, he senses that his time has nearly come. One day, Boxer is nowhere to be found. According to Squealer, Boxer has died in peace after having been taken to the hospital, praising the Rebellion with his last breath. In actuality, Napoleon has sold his most loyal and long-suffering worker to a glue maker in order to get money for whisky. Years pass on Animal Farm, and the pigs become more and more like human beings—walking upright, carrying whips, and wearing clothes. Eventually, the seven principles of Animalism, known as the Seven Commandments and inscribed on the side of the barn, become reduced to a single principle reading “all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” Napoleon entertains a human farmer named Mr. Pilkington at a dinner and declares his intent to ally himself with the human farmers against the labouring classes of both the human and animal communities. He also changes the name of Animal Farm back to the Manor Farm, claiming that this title is the “correct” one. Looking in at the party of elites through the farmhouse window, the common animals can no longer tell which are the pigs and which are the human beings.
Humans: The humans stand for the people who exploit the weak. The gradual transformation of the pigs into human-like creatures represents the process by which the revolution's leaders became corrupted. Whether capitalist or communist in name, the underlying reality of many political systems.
Snowball: Snowball represents Leon Trotsky. Like Trotsky, Snowball is a smart, young speaker who dreams of making life better for all animals. One of the early leaders of the "October Revolution", Trotsky was banished from the Soviet Union. While abroad, he was repeatedly denounced as a traitor by his native country, and wild lies were invented to discredit him. Trotsky was eventually killed in Mexico by the Russian internal police.
Napoleon: Not as clever as Snowball, Napoleon is also cruel, selfish and corrupt. Napoleon is most clearly representative of Joseph Stalin, who, like Napoleon, ruled with an iron fist and killed all those who opposed him. On a deeper level, he represents the human weaknesses which eventually undermine even the best political intentions. In much the same way that Napoleon used the dogs, Squealer, and Moses to control animals, Stalin used the KGB and cleverly worded lies (called "propaganda") to control
Pigs: Orwell has chosen the pigs to represent the Communist Party loyalists. In the early years of the revolution they were concerned with the welfare of the common workers; as time passed, however, they began to take advantage of their role as leaders. By film's end, the ideals of the revolution have been sacrificed, and the pigs are indistinguishable from the farm's original masters.
Dogs: The dogs constitute the pigs' private army; the pigs used the dogs to maintain a climate of terror which silenced all opposition to their rule. The dogs remain completely loyal to Napoleon throughout the novel, much in the way that the KGB faithfully supported Lenin and Stalin.
Boxer and Clover: These strong, hard-working horses live by the words "I must work harder." Boxer and Clover represent the dedicated "proletariat," Karl Marx's term for the unskilled labour class. They are drawn to the rebellion because they think they will benefit most from its promises. It was the proletariat in Russian society who remained loyal to Stalin as they built up the Soviet Industrial machine. Eventually, they are betrayed by Stalin and the Communist party.
Moses: Whose name is reference to the prominent Biblical figure, is a symbol for religion and represents Orwell's view of the Church. Though Snowball and Napoleon oppose Moses' ideas, he is allowed to remain on the farm because he encourages hard work and submissive behaviour.