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.
I hope this helps!