At first glance, Animal Farm appears to be a childrens book about some crazy animals who take over a farm, however, reading beyond the mere words, it is much more than that; the story represents the Russian Revolution. The plot is based on what happened in Russia and each character represents an important personage or influence of that time. Orwell carefully chose each animal to depict the events of the Russian Revolution. Every animal, whether it be the name of the animal or simply the type of animal had its own symbolic meaning. The animals can talk and some are just as intelligent as humans. Each type of animal represents a different position of society. For example, the pigs were representative of politicians, the dogs were much like police, the horses were symbolic of the laborers and the sheep characterize the innocent people. Snowball and Napoleon, Boxer, and Squealer were 4 of the major characters that stood out and were very influential throughout the story.
Snowball, a white boar, with a cleverly chosen name symbolizing purity, is a smart, young speaker who dreams of making life better for all animals on the farm, even leading a revolt to realize that dream. Clearly, Orwell was portraying Leon Trotsky, an influential politician fighting for a better life for the people of Russia, eventually forming the Red Army. Snowball emerges as an eager advocate of Animalism, having the animals best interests at heart. He throws himself fully into the attempt to spread his ideas worldwide and to improve Animal Farm. Like Trotsky, who was thrown out of the Communist Party, Snowball was banned from the farm and the entire community of animals eventually called him a traitor.
Napoleon, Berkshire boar, from the beginning appears to be a corrupt opportunist. Orwell appropriately chose his name to be the same as the French general Napoleon, who shunned all the democratic principles that helped him rise to power. Not once does Napoleon help with the farm revolution. He is only focused on the strength and power he gains over Animal Farm. Orwell depicts Napoleon to parallel Joseph Stalin, the Soviet dictator, in his rise to power as well as all the political tyrants that have emerged throughout human history. Napoleon manages to manipulate all of the animals so that everything they benefits him and him only.
Boxer, a cart horse, strongly believes in the Rebellion and in his leader, Napoleon. His name represents strength and his character represents the ideal working class through his loyalty, dedication, and the excessive labor he did. Orwell also gave him a quality that he saw as one of the biggest weaknesses of the working class; the nave trust put in the leader before them and how easily corruption in politics is overlooked. Boxer does more work under Napoleon and Snowball than he ever did with Mr. Jones, but because of their manipulation he doesnt see this and thinks they are always right. His motto even becomes not only I will work harder but, Napoleon is always right as well. This goes to show the nave trust given to the leader because in the end Napoleon was only in it for himself and his own benefit. The death Boxer suffers shows the extent of the betrayal the pigs brought upon Animal Farm. Before Boxer was taken away and sold for glue, the animals still believed in something and this held the farm together. Almost instantly after he was taken away and his death was announced, things started to dramatically fall apart. Ironically, Boxer was the glue that held them all together. Unlike Snowball and Napoleon, Boxer represented a whole group of people not just one person.
Squealer, a small fat porker, was very significant to the allegory of the story because of what he represented. He is a major representation of propaganda and represents the Soviet Newspaper that was influenced by Stalins anonymous articles to give the impression the country was far better off than it was. All Squealer is ever doing is using words to justify that everything Napoleon does is right and for the good of Animal Farm. He does so by whatever means is necessary, even changing the Seven Commandments, which were written by Snowball, when no one is looking. Squealer constantly convinces the other animals that the new words were always there, they just dont remember hearing them. The animals had to believe him because none of them were literate. He uses jargon in order to confuse the uneducated animals and make them feel a sense of hopelessness unless they follow Napoleons lead. The absolute loyalty to his leader and the rhetorical skills he possesses are Orwells way of setting him up perfectly for a representation of propaganda and how rhetoric can persuade and influence the thoughts and beliefs of people. The name Squealer also fits well because a definition of to squeal is to betray, which is exactly what he does to his fellow animals.
Orwells book, Animal Farm has many parallels to the Russian revolution and that time frame. The characters and their names are what make this parallel clear. Each character throughout the story has some reference to either a single person, a group of people, or something of importance during the Russian revolution. Much like Stalin used the Soviet newspaper to distort the truth, Napoleon uses Squealer to gradually twist the rhetoric of socialist revolution to justify his behavior and hide the truth from the other animals. Orwells clever use of animal characters and descriptive names allows the reader to enjoy a simple, entertaining story while learning the historical impacts of the Russian revolution and some of the key figures of that revolution. Throughout the entire story Orwell uses propaganda through Squealer and this is his main form of rhetoric but, it worked because it even makes the reader believe Squealer is being honest at some points in the story.