Discuss the positive and negative traits of leadership featured in the novel.

Expert Answers
Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that Orwelll is a bit sympathetic to the Trotsky figure of Snowball.  He constructs Snowball to possess qualities of a good leader.  Snowball is a revolutionary who is constantly in communication with the other animals.  He never seems to lose sight that the revolution is for the animals and comes from the animals.  Orwell makes Snowball possess positive qualities of leadership in how he is able to speak with other animals and always keep their needs in the forefront of his concerns. His loyalty to the other animals is on display at the Battle of the Cowshed, as well as his inspirational qualities.  It is here where I think that the best example of leadership is present in the novel.

On the reverse side is the reality that Orwell possesses a fearful attitude of leadership.  Either he sees leadership as dangerously incompetent, such as Jones' inability to understand the condition of the animals and his own precarious leadership until far too late.  If leadership is not this, then it is downright dangerous such as with Napoleon.  The brutality and devious manner in which Napoleon consolidates and assumes power is something that becomes horrifying to both the reader and to Orwell, himself.  In this representation of leadership, the most narcissistic and cruel elements are on display for all to see.  In Napoleon, Orwell demonstrates how leadership can be brutal and unfair to all, twisting goals it allegedly supports.