Characters in Animal Farm

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Old Major is the inspiration which fuels the Revolution and the book. According to one interpretation, he could be based upon both Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin. As a socialist, George Orwell may have agreed with much of Marx, and even respected aspects of Lenin. According to this interpretation, the satire in Animal Farm is not of Marxism, or of Lenin's revolution, but of the corruption that occurred later. However, according to Christopher Hitchens: in the book, "the aims and principles of the Russian Revolution are given face-value credit throughout; this is a revolution betrayed, not a revolution that is monstrous from its inception." Though Old Major is presented positively, Orwell does slip in some flaws, such as his admission that he has largely been free of the abuse the rest of the animals have had to suffer. Old Major introduces the animals to the song Beasts of England. Old Major (also called Willingdon Beauty, his show name) is the first major character described by George Orwell in Animal Farm. This "purebred" of pigs is the kind, grandfatherly philosopher of change; an obvious metaphor for Karl Marx, though some elements of Old Major are directly from Vladimir Lenin. Old Major proposes a solution to the animals' desperate plight under the Jones' "administration" (representing the tsar and autocracy) when he inspires a rebellion of sorts among the animals. The actual time of the revolt is unsaid. It could be the next day or several generations down the road. Old Major's "Barn-Yard Speech" at the very onset of the story could be a reference to the Communist Manifesto. Shortly after his death, the animals rise up in revolt and oust the men from power. Early on everything goes well and Old Major's dream seems to be coming true. The pig Snowball largely takes on the intellectual and political leadership of the farm and seems to share Old Major's principle of genuine concern for the animals of the farm. While Snowball is respected by most of the animals, the rest of the pigs, led by Napoleon, begin to move to oust Snowball. This occurs after the debate over the windmills when Napoleon unleashes his trained dogs to chase Snowball from the farm. The Seven Commandments that Snowball had transcribed, that were supposed to encompass Old Major's general philosophy, are gradually altered and deformed under Napoleon until they come to entirely opposite meanings than were originally intended.Also 'Beasts of England' the song that came to Old Major in his dream was later banned on Animal Farm. In both film adaptations, Major dies while provoking the animals into rebelling. In the 1954 adaption, he dies suddenly while the animals are singing. The 1999 version is even more unfaithful- Jones slips in mud while investigating the sounds coming from the barn, fires his shotgun, and indirectly hits Major, killing him. Old Major in the allegory

With Animal Farm being parallel to the formation of the Soviet Union, Old Major was based on both Lenin and Marx. The animals hold him in high esteem, and dig up his skull and walk past it and salute it every day, until the end of the novel when Napoleon announces that he had buried the skull, much as Lenin's body was preserved and is kept on display in Moscow. Marx, author of the Communist Manifesto, died before the first communist revolution, whereas Old Major, founder of Animalism, dies before the Animal Farm revolution. His body was saluted by the soldiers everyday, even after the rebellion.


Napoleon, a Berkshire boar, is the main tyrant and villain of Animal Farm and is based upon Joseph Stalin. Napoleon begins to gradually build up his power, using puppies he took from mother dogs Jessie and Bluebell, which he raises to be vicious dogs as his secret police. After driving Snowball off the farm, Napoleon usurps full power, using false propaganda from Squealer and threats and intimidation from the dogs to keep the other animals in line. Among other...
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