Protagonist in Animal Farm

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  • 0:01 Protagonists & Animal Farm
  • 1:02 The Characters
  • 2:48 Individual Protagonist…
  • 4:16 Collective Protagonist…
  • 5:20 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Catherine Rose

Catherine taught middle and high school English and has a master's degree in Education.

Who is leading the pack in George Orwell's 'Animal Farm?' Explore the dynamics of the characters of this novel and the lack of a central protagonist throughout the story in this lesson.

Protagonists & Animal Farm

Harry Potter. Luke Skywalker. Hamlet. Romeo and Juliet. What do all of these characters have in common? They're all the clear central figures in a piece of literature. As readers or viewers, we connect with these characters, celebrating their victories and mourning their losses right along with them. These characters are the protagonists in their stories. The protagonist is the central or main character of a story, often called the hero. Through this character, we experience the conflict as the antagonist, or the force working against the protagonist, fights against him or her. However, what if the protagonist isn't as clear? This is the case in George Orwell's Animal Farm. While there isn't one clear protagonist throughout the novel, the characters do present a collective protagonist and often have moments that make them seem like individual examples of a main character. Let's begin by understanding who the major characters are in this story.

The Characters

There are several different characters in the novel, each with their own roles and points of view. They include:

  • Mr. Jones, the incompetent owner of Manor Farm where the story takes place
  • Old Major, the older, grandfatherly pig who inspires the animals to revolt and create a better life for themselves
  • Napoleon, the pig who takes charge after Old Major's death and controls much of what happens on the farm
  • Squealer, the messenger of pigs in charge who often manipulates the animals to do what the leaders want
  • Snowball, the pig who is almost a leader of the farm, but whose ideas contradict Napoleon, so he's eventually chased away from the farm entirely
  • Boxer and Clover, often the most beloved characters, these are the hard-working horses on the farm
  • The other pigs who are supporters of Napoleon and his plans for the farm
  • The dogs who are the bodyguards of the pigs
  • Mollie, a horse who is more concerned with wearing ribbons in her mane than the ideology of the farm
  • Moses, the raven who is despised by the other animals because he tells tales and does no work
  • Muriel, the goat who is smart enough to know wrongdoing is taking place but not charismatic enough to make any changes
  • Old Benjamin, the elderly donkey whose demeanor remains the same after the rebellion, not becoming overly excited or depressed by what's happening
  • The Sheep, who are unintelligent followers who simply chant whatever is told to them without considering what it means
  • The pigeons, which are the messengers to the other farms for Napoleon

Now that we've gotten to know the characters again, we can talk about the possibility of there being individual protagonists and collective protagonists in the novel. Let's begin with a discussion of the individual possibilities.

Individual Protagonist Possibility

Unlike most stories where a clear protagonist emerges, in Animal Farm this doesn't occur. However, there is one character who could be considered a protagonist based on the way his choices, desires, and actions seem to move the plot along. That character is Napoleon.

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