Stories of any kind are usually written to deepen our understanding of human being, the surrounding environment and to elicit moral value for our benefit. Interesting stories are able to attract readers for their intriguing plot, language or characters created by the author .Characters help to breathe life into a story and the creation of character will aid the author to have lasting impression in the minds of the reader. Character analysis is an important aspect in understanding a story. (Laurie G. Kirszner) The ultimate aim of character analysis is to establish how a particular character has certain proven traits that significantly affect the outcome of a story. Thus the aim of this paper is to analyze some of the major characters in George Orwell’s Animal Farm which forms the crux of the novel.
Character is one of the qualities apart from plot, language and description that makes reading piece enjoyable. Personality and symbolic meaning of each of the characters will help us to understand the story better .Characters can be either dynamic or static or combination of both in a story. (Laurie G. Kirszner) A uniquely created character leaves a very long impression to the reader. For example: The Seven Dwarfs in Snow White, Agent 007 in James Bond, Timmy the Dog in Famous Five and Desdemona in Othello.
George Orwell, the author of Animal Farm, favors socialism and he strongly opposed communism (totalitarian regime). He wrote Animal Farm which eventually depicted the betrayal of Russian revolution particularly against Stalin’s policies. Orwell used animals to minimize the risk of rejection because the animal content makes the medium appear less sentimental or serious. (Boehrer, Animal Characters : Nonhuman Beings in Early Modern Literature) The characters in George Orwell’s Animal farm all had certain traits and qualities to make the novel an outstanding piece. Animal characters are used probably to attract people from all walks of life as the novel had served as fable and also as political satire. Overall there are twenty three characters both major and minor one. ( refer appendix 1 ).Napolean, Snowball, Squealer and Boxer are some of the major characters involved in Animal farm and their characters are further analyzed in different perspective.
2 CHARACTER ANALYSIS
Napolean is one of the most outstanding character in Animal Farm . He is the Protagonist of the novel and Orwell compares him to the real Joseph Stalin. Napolean is described as a big, healthy and vigorous boar. The author introduces him in the novel ” Napolean was a large , rather fierce looking Berkshire boar, the only Berkshire in the farm”. (Orwell) The creativity of Orwell in choosing the perfect animal to fit the story needs to be applauded. Berkshire boars are considered elite among the pig breed, and this could be one of the reasons why Orwell described Napolean as a Berkshire boar. Perhaps, Orwell selected this name as this character is similar to Napoleon Bonaparte, the very famous French leader. Napolean’s character in this story is dynamic, because of his behavior and attitude changes in the course of the story. He was initially silent, but a bit cooperative in attending meetings and drawing up the 7 commandments, sending out pigeons for promulgating messages with Snowball. Those who don’t have knowledge on Russian history would not expect Napolean’s character change which was the climax of the whole story. His character turned dynamic and more dominant after chasing Snowball and taking charge of the farm. (Rodden, Understanding Animal Farm : A student casebook to Issues, Sources and Historical Issues)
Napoleans change of character is due to greed, arrogance, jealousy and hunger for power. Though considered negative to the readers, yet the way Napoleon planned his rebellion was very systematic. One should carefully plan before converting the plan into an action. This is something that could be learned from Napolean. Napolean’s character was constantly changing. He talked to convince the animals but when he came to a stage where all the animals respected and had fear in him, he behaved more like a upper class human which is against the principle of animalism. Though Napolean’s character was dominant, but with the author’s creativity it did not overshadow other characters in the story.
Squealer’a character became more noticeable with the changes in Napolean’s behavior. Squealer s a poker with very round cheeks, twinkling eyes and nimble movement an squeals with a shrill voice
(Orwell). Initially Squealer’s character seems to be consistent, even when Snowball was around he helped to propagate fear on other animals that Mr Jones will be back (Orwell).
Squealer is also a dynamic character as he changes along the story. Squelaer is the henchmen and spokesman for Napolean . He goes on propagating as well as justifiying actions and policies drawn by Napolean. Orwell showed squealer as trickery, deceiving and good at speaking as he can turn black into white. ( pg 9, chapter 2 ). Though he also constantly had character changes, the most significant would be when Boxer was send to the knackers. Squealer managed to create hatred to the reader with his remarkable twist of the story. Orwells creativity in choosing animals is once again appreciated for selecting the name Squealer. Squealing is the primary sound of pigs and here in this story Squealer, squeals Napoleon’s propaganda . (Orwell)
Boxer, a carthorse, was an enormous beast, nearly eighteen hands high and very strong. Despite being strong, the white stripe along down his nose gave him rather a stupid look. (Orwell)1 )Whilst some other animals had dynamic character changes in the story, Boxers profile was kept static, steady and consistent. Although static , boxer’s character never bored the reader. Boxer’s characters had gain some sympathy from the readers. According to (Laurie G. Kirszner) some characters although being static may be well developed and sometimes the point of the story may hinge on a character’s inability to change. Boxer’s hard work and diligence is mostly described by Orwell during the construction of the windmill and it was Boxers cruel death that was one of the most gruesome part in the story which made many readers shed into tears.( pgs 81-83,chapter9). Boxer works very hard for the success of Animal farm and he adopted the maxim “I will work hard” and “Napolean is always right”.
The name “Boxer” suits well as he is very strong physically but inside he is a naive. Boxer’s courage and respect is often praised despite being naive. Boxer is described as the working class and it respected people in authority and never listen to other characters that talks bad about his boss ( Napolean ). In reality, we should set Boxer as a good example due to its respected and hardworking behavior but in addition we should be smart enough to balance between good and bad.
Snowball is also another major character that was moderately dynamic in Animal farm. Snowball was a vivacious, very inventive, remarkable orator. But he lacks Napoleans depth character (Orwell). Orwell compares Snowball with Leon Trotsky. Snowball had the qualities of a leader and he is able to control the farm in rather a soft way compared to Napolean. Snowball drafts his policies and most of the time he spread it himself rather than doing it through a spokes person. Orwell tend to show that a leader can be either diplomatic (snowball ) or a dictator ( Napolean) and both these qualities are able to gain control in their own way. Snowball’s name symbolizes the snowball effect whereby when something small or insignificant gains momentum and quickly becomes large. (Gottlieb) The result of this effect can be either negative or positive, depending on the nature of the particular scenario. Here at first when Snowball was in charge of Animal farm, he was becoming famous and everything seems to be running smoothly until Napeloen came. Another scenario will be when all the misfortunes happening in the farm whether intentionally or unintentionally blamed on Snowball . The misfortunes were getting larger and all the animals believed Snowball was the cause. (Rodden, questia.com)
The characters in Animal farm are played by different animals chosen carefully to fit the human behavior by the author. Characters being the essence of a story have their own strength and weakness. Readers who analyze the characters critically are able to see how certain characters are dynamic which is ideal in a particular point of time. Character analyzing also able to set our own position as a reader to the problem and evaluate the role of each of the characters. Finally, characters that are perfectly delivered will help an author to have lasting impression on the minds of the reader.
Boehrer, Bruce. Animal Characters : Nonhuman Beings in Early Modern Literature. London: Rorotoko, 2010.
-. “rorotoko.com.” 28 June 2010. 2010 October 2
Broadbent, Ed. Queen’s Quarterly 22 December 2002.
Gottlieb, Erika. “George Orwell’s Animal Farm.” Harold Bloom (2003): Vol.14.
J.Voorhees, Richard. The Paradox of George Orwell. Ahland,OH: Purdue University, 1961.
Laurie G. Kirszner, Stephen R. Mandell. Literature Reading,Rreacting, Writing. Boston: Thomson Wadsworth, 2007.
Merriam, C.D. Jalic inc. 2006. 5 October 2010
Orwell, George. Animal Farm. London: Penguin Books, 1989.
Rodden, John. “questia.com.” 7 OCTOBER 2010. oCTOBER 2010
-. Understanding Animal Farm : A student casebook to Issues, Sources and Historical Issues. London: Greenwood Press, 1999.
Thody, Philip. Journal Of European Studies (1994).