Napoleon is powerful in different ways. Perhaps most importantly, he is powerful because he controls the dogs, who intimidate and suppress the other animals. Napoleon deliberately takes the dogs from their mother when they are puppies and then raises them to become a vicious, loyal fighting unit. They are the...
Napoleon is powerful in different ways. Perhaps most importantly, he is powerful because he controls the dogs, who intimidate and suppress the other animals. Napoleon deliberately takes the dogs from their mother when they are puppies and then raises them to become a vicious, loyal fighting unit. They are the equivalent of Hitler’s Brownshirts or Stalin’s NKVD. Napoleon uses the dogs to chase his only rival, Snowball, from the farm. He also uses the dogs to silence any dissenting voices. For example, when four piglets voice their disapproval in Chapter 5, “the dogs sitting around Napoleon let out deep, menacing growls, and the [piglets fall] silent and [sit] down again.”
Napoleon is also powerful because he creates a sort of cult of personality around himself. For example, he replaces the Beasts of England song with a song all about himself. In this new song, Napoleon is lauded as “the sun in the sky” and the “giver of / All that thy creatures love.” In other words, Napoleon sets himself up as indispensable. The animals are taught to believe that they depend upon him as they depend upon the sun. They depend upon him, they believe, for food and to keep Jones away. Napoleon also organizes processional marches, during which he is surrounded by his dogs and preceded by his black cockerel, who acts as “a kind of trumpeter, letting out a loud 'cock-a-doodle-do' before Napoleon speaks.” These marches are intended to make the animals believe that Napoleon is almost like a god.
A third reason as to why Napoleon is powerful is because he controls the past. He convinces the animals, through Squealer, that their lives under him are better than they ever were under Jones, even though the reader is aware that this is not the case. Napoleon has Squealer read out to the animals
. . . long lists of figures proving that the production of every class of foodstuff (has) increased by two hundred per cent, three hundred per cent or five hundred per cent.
These figures are, of course, nonsense, but the animals believe them because they “no longer remember very clearly what conditions had been like before the Rebellion.” Napoleon thus convinces the animals that the past was worse than the present.
Napoleon also controls, or rather manipulates the past by claiming that Snowball, during the Battle of the Cowshed, “turned and fled,” while he himself “sprang forward with a cry of ‘Death to Humanity!’ and sank his teeth in Jones’ leg.” Again, we the readers know that this account of the past is completely untrue, but the animals have poor memories and are easily convinced otherwise. In one of his other books, 1984, Orwell writes that, “Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past.” Napoleon seems aware of this truth, and so he manipulates the past to better exercise power over the animals and over their future.