Animal Farm

Benjamin Character Analysis

A jaded donkey with the skeptical view that life will always be difficult and painful. Because of this outlook, Benjamin isn’t surprised when the pigs corrupt the revolution and transform Animal Farm into a totalitarian state. Though his skepticism proves to be well-founded and he alone among the animals seems aware of what’s going on, it also renders him ineffective as he’s unwilling to speak up or do anything to stop it. He also consistently refuses to explain what’s going on to his friends, as when he refuses to read the Seven Commandments to Clover and alone understands what he’s seeing when the animals find Squealer and paint next to a broken ladder and the Seven Commandments. This comes back to haunt him when Napoleon betrays Boxer and sends him to the glue factory—though Benjamin does speak up and tell the animals what’s going on, it’s too late to save Boxer. Benjamin represents those who were aware of Stalin’s unjust and oppressive policies but did nothing to try to stop them.

Benjamin Quotes in Animal Farm

The Animal Farm quotes below are all either spoken by Benjamin or refer to Benjamin. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Totalitarianism Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Signet Classics edition of Animal Farm published in 1996.
Chapter 8 Quotes

At the foot of the end wall of the big barn, where the Seven Commandments were written, there lay a ladder broken in two pieces. Squealer, temporarily stunned, was sprawling beside it, and near at hand there lay a lantern, a paint-brush, and an overturned pot of white paint. [...] None of the animals could form any idea as to what this meant, except old Benjamin, who nodded his muzzle with a knowing air, and seemed to understand, but would say nothing.

Related Characters: Benjamin, Squealer
Page Number: 108-109
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 10 Quotes

ALL ANIMALS ARE EQUAL, BUT SOME ANIMALS ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS.

Related Characters: Napoleon, Benjamin, Squealer, Clover
Page Number: 134
Explanation and Analysis:
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Benjamin Character Timeline in Animal Farm

The timeline below shows where the character Benjamin appears in Animal Farm. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Class Warfare Theme Icon
...brood of orphaned ducklings in the crook of her leg as the cantankerous old donkey, Benjamin, and the goat Muriel join the horses. (full context)
Chapter 3
Revolution and Corruption Theme Icon
Class Warfare Theme Icon
The Soviet Union Theme Icon
...while the cat disappears during work time and shows up for meals with excellent excuses. Benjamin seems unchanged since the rebellion. He cryptically repeats that donkeys live a long time and... (full context)
Class Warfare Theme Icon
Language as Power Theme Icon
...only read the Seven Commandments. Muriel learns to read and reads newspapers out loud, while Benjamin is completely literate but refuses to read. Clover learns the whole alphabet but cannot read... (full context)
Chapter 4
Revolution and Corruption Theme Icon
Language as Power Theme Icon
The Soviet Union Theme Icon
...their posts. First, the pigeons and geese dive bomb and harass the men. Then, Muriel, Benjamin, and the sheep converge to butt and kick them. The men are too strong, so... (full context)
Chapter 5
Totalitarianism Theme Icon
Class Warfare Theme Icon
Language as Power Theme Icon
...deeply divided over the windmill, but the only animal who doesn’t take a side is Benjamin. He insists that no matter what happens, life will continue to be awful. (full context)
Chapter 6
Totalitarianism Theme Icon
Class Warfare Theme Icon
...the quarry and toppling them over the edge to shatter. The horses, sheep, Muriel, and Benjamin all haul stone to the site of the windmill. The process is exhausting. Boxer seems... (full context)
Totalitarianism Theme Icon
...walls of the windmill. Boxer even spends hours at night working alone, and everyone except Benjamin spends their spare time admiring the structure. In November, however, a storm blows through. One... (full context)
Chapter 8
Class Warfare Theme Icon
...dogs, but Clover feels that the executions aren’t in line with this rule. She asks Benjamin to read her the Commandment, but he refuses so, Muriel reads instead. The Commandment reads,... (full context)
Class Warfare Theme Icon
Language as Power Theme Icon
The Soviet Union Theme Icon
...windmill. At first it looks like they’re going to try to knock it down, but Benjamin nods in amusement and notes that they’re going to blow it up. He’s right: after... (full context)
Class Warfare Theme Icon
...paint. The dogs surround Squealer and escort him back to the farmhouse. No one but Benjamin seems to understand anything. A few days later, Muriel sees that the Commandment that she... (full context)
Chapter 9
Totalitarianism Theme Icon
Class Warfare Theme Icon
Language as Power Theme Icon
...but in the evenings, he shares with Clover that his hoof is painful. Clover and Benjamin encourage Boxer to be careful, but Boxer insists he wants to see the windmill done... (full context)
Revolution and Corruption Theme Icon
Class Warfare Theme Icon
...on determination alone, but the animals reason he’ll pick up once summer comes. Clover and Benjamin warn him to take care of himself, but Boxer ignores them. One summer evening, however,... (full context)
Totalitarianism Theme Icon
Language as Power Theme Icon
Except for Benjamin and Clover, all the animals run to tell Squealer what happened. Squealer concernedly tells Boxer... (full context)
Totalitarianism Theme Icon
Class Warfare Theme Icon
...middle of the day, while the other animals are working. The animals are astonished when Benjamin races for them, braying that they’re taking Boxer away. The animals race back to see... (full context)
Chapter 10
Totalitarianism Theme Icon
Revolution and Corruption Theme Icon
Class Warfare Theme Icon
Language as Power Theme Icon
Years pass, and soon, only Clover, Benjamin, Moses, and some of the pigs remember life before the rebellion. Everyone else dies and... (full context)
Revolution and Corruption Theme Icon
Class Warfare Theme Icon
...compare their present to except for Squealer’s figures, which show that life is getting better. Benjamin is the only one who supposedly remembers everything, but he insists that things have never... (full context)
Totalitarianism Theme Icon
Revolution and Corruption Theme Icon
Language as Power Theme Icon
Clover nuzzles Benjamin and leads him to the barn where the Seven Commandments are written. She says that... (full context)