How does Napoleon change over time in Animal Farm?

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Napoleon is a dynamic character in George Orwell’s allegorical novel Animal Farm. In the first chapter of Animal Farm, Napoleon is just one of several pigs who listen to Old Major outline the philosophy of Animalism and introduce the song “Beasts of England.” After Old Major’s death,...

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Napoleon is a dynamic character in George Orwell’s allegorical novel Animal Farm. In the first chapter of Animal Farm, Napoleon is just one of several pigs who listen to Old Major outline the philosophy of Animalism and introduce the song “Beasts of England.” After Old Major’s death, however, Napoleon quickly rises through the ranks and becomes an important ruler on the farm. Napoleon is introduced as

a large, rather fierce-looking Berkshire boar . . . not much of a talker but with a reputation for getting his own way.

The first description of Napoleon in the second chapter foreshadows his future brutish nature and penchant for totalitarian rule.

Despite early hints of future despotism, Napoleon doesn’t immediately change into a brutal dictator after Old Major’s death. Instead, Napoleon works alongside the other pigs to promulgate the precepts of Animalism. He is responsible for distributing rations and quickly begins gathering power at the expense of the other animals. For example, Napoleon begins hoarding milk and giving it only to the “brainworkers,” or the pigs.

Napoleon focuses his efforts on the “education” of Bluebell and Jessie’s puppies. It seems that in the early days of the revolution, Napoleon is biding his time and waiting for an opportunity to consolidate his power. By secretly educating the puppies into cruel enforcers, Napoleon betrays several of the core precepts of Animalism very early in the plot.

The vindictive personality of Napoleon becomes increasingly apparent during the conflict with Snowball over the building of the windmill. Napoleon opposes the windmill construction and, when it becomes clear that most of the animals will follow Snowball, Napoleon,

arrived unexpectedly to examine the plans and snuffed at them once or twice, then stood for a little while contemplating them out of the corner of his eye; then suddenly he lifted his leg, urinated over the plans and walked out without saying a word.

This behavior shows that Napoleon was focused not on the success of the farm, but his power and popularity.

Napoleon’s totalitarian tendencies become fully exposed after Snowball is driven off the farm, and he is granted the status as the undisputed leader of the farm. Quickly, the animals are worked harder, rations are cut, and the pigs gain even more privileges than before. Napoleon changes the precepts of Animalism and deceives his subjects with propaganda. Perhaps the most memorable act of Napoleon’s cruelty is the sale of the loyal Boxer to the gluemaker.

By the end of the novel, Napoleon has become so like Mr. Jones and the humans that the animals on the farm thought “it was impossible to say which was which.” Napoleon’s character highlights the corrupting influence of power and allegorically serves as George Orwell’s critique of Joseph Stalin.

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At the beginning of the novella, Napoleon supports the animals' cause against Mr. Jones and plays a crucial role in establishing Animal Farm after Mr. Jones and his men are expelled. Napoleon helps organize their first harvest without human interaction and also propagates Animalism by painting the Seven Commandments on the wall of the barn. Shortly after the animals take over the farm, Napoleon secretly educates nine puppies, which grow into ferocious personal bodyguards. During a public debate, Napoleon usurps power by driving Snowball from the farm.

As leader of Animal Farm, Napoleon becomes increasingly tyrannical, requiring the animals to work longer, more arduous hours while simultaneously receiving fewer rations of food. Napoleon also publicly executes political dissidents, develops a cult of personality, and proceeds to break every commandment. By the end of the novella, Napoleon not only behaves like corrupt humans but also physically resembles them by wearing clothes and walking on his hind legs. Overall, Napoleon goes from being a supporter of animal independence from human tyranny to a ruthless dictator who works the other animals to death for his selfish purposes.

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Napoleon, based on Joseph Stalin, has a desire for power from early on, but grows more corrupt and less like an animal as he becomes more powerful. At first, this "rather fierce-looking Berkshire boar" is considered to have "depth of character," though what kind of character is not specified. At first too, Napoleon treats the other animals generously, giving them double food rations after they run Mr. Jones off the farm. Later, he surrounds himself with fierce dogs and cuts the other animal's rations in half if they don't work extra hours. Despite the commandment that decrees that all animals are equal, he sets himself above the others.

Increasingly, Napoleon breaks the animal code, ultimately breaking all seven of the Seven Commandments. He moves into a house and sleeps in a bed. He institutes a reign of terror, killing animals who oppose him By the end of the novel, he is walking on two legs, wearing human clothing and drinking alcohol. In fact, he can't be distinguished from a human. 

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