In Animal Farm, how does Napoleon's decision to enage in public executions add to the characterization of him?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The public executions are a way for Napoleon to consolidate his power over the animals.  They are designed to ensure obedience amongst the animals.  Napoleon uses them to force the animals to "fall in line" with his rule and suppress any dissent that might exist amongst the animals.  This helps to enhance Napoleon's characterization in the novel in a couple of ways.  The first is that is shows true brutality.  The savage way in which the animals who step forward and confess is intensely awful.  The dogs ripping out the throast of those who confess is a fairly horrific image.  This brutality serves Napoleon's image well as one who does not tolerate any sort of dissent under his watch.  At the same time, the idea of "confessing" is something that Napoleon and the Pigs use to their advantage in making clear that the animals "confessed" to their own crimes of disloyalty and that the punishment rendered was merely justice for what had been done.  At the same time, this helps to enhance Napoleon's characterization in being able to allow him to be able to suggest that he was merely carrying out the laws, no more and no less.  In this, Napoleon's cruelty as a leader is evident.

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