How did Napoleon create a leader myth and personality cult in Orwell's Animal Farm?  

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rrteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Napoleon carefully cultivates his image throughout the book. On the one hand, he simply uses sheer terror, eliminating his potential critics and enemies with the fiercely loyal dogs he trains from birth. The purges in Chapter He also creates an "other" to demonize in the form of Snowball. His former comrade is portrayed as a constant threat to the farm, and Napoleon uses this threat, in a way, to justify arrogating more powers to himself. For example, when the windmill, having been improperly constructed, is destroyed by a windstorm, Napoleon blames Snowball:

“Comrades,” he said quietly, “do you know who is responsible for this? Do you know the enemy who has come in the night and overthrown our windmill? SNOWBALL!” he suddenly roared in a voice of thunder. “Snowball has done this thing! In sheer malignity, thinking to set back our plans...this traitor has crept here under cover of night and destroyed our work of nearly a year. Comrades, here and now I pronounce the death sentence upon Snowball.

Napoleon uses Squealer, his "propaganda minister" to both frighten the animals about Snowball and empower Napoleon. According to him, the farm is always in jeopardy due to the machinations of Snowball, and strong leadership, in the form of Napoleon, of course, is needed to keep the animals safe. The animals, especially Boxer, adopt, at Squealer's urging, the slogan "Napoleon is always right!" Napoleon sets himself apart from the other animals by moving into the farm house. He has roosters to announce his entrance into the farmyard. He eventually even takes to walking, talking, and dressing like humans, a final departure from the ideals of the rebellion. But each of these actions, in a sense, seems to be intentional, a way to portray himself as a great leader. Of course, Orwell deliberately means to draw parallels between Napoleon and Josef Stalin, who employed similar methods to maintain and increase his power.