How do Napoleon and the pigs achieve power in the novel Animal Farm by George Orwell?

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rrteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Napoleon and the pigs achieve power through their leadership of the revolution that overthrows Jones, the human owner of Manor Farm (renamed Animal Farm under the pigs' leadership). The pigs are the smartest of the animals, and it becomes clear fairly early in the aftermath of the uprising that they will occupy positions of power and privilege on Animal Farm. For example, the pigs claim they need apples in their mash, a privilege not extended to other animals, because their minds are so essential to the organization of Animal Farm. Over time, Napoleon, with Squealer as his obsequious propagandist, purges his rival Snowball and begins to solidify his power with a combination of brutality and deception. They claim that Snowball is constantly conspiring to destroy the farm and that Napoleon, not Snowball, was the architect of the windmill. Using the dogs, Napoleon has dozens of the animals killed in front of the rest for allegedly committing treason. By the end of the book, the pigs are walking upright, wearing clothing, drinking and playing cards, and are indistinguishable from their old human masters. This process is most clearly demonstrated by their manipulation of the Seven Commandments written on the barn. At the beginning, they contained seven rules intended to establish equality among all animals. By the end of the book, there is only one commandment that assures the rest of the animals that while all animals are equal, some are "more equal than others."

teachersage eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The pigs achieve power in Animal Farm first and primarily through controlling the discourse. They are smarter than the other animals and are able to manipulate language to justify special privileges, such as not participating in physical labor and moving into Mr. Jones's farmhouse. They twist language to gloss over engaging in activities that violate the ideals of animal equality and the strict separation from humans on which Animal Farm was founded.

After Napoleon takes over, this control of the discourse accelerates. The Seven Commandments (and the lyrics of Beasts of England) begin to change until by the end of the book, the commandments have been reduced to the one self-contradictory statement that "all animals are equal but some some animals are more equal than others."

Napoleon also trains guard dogs, and this becomes a second way of achieving power: a reign of terror. Napoleon and the pigs simply use the dogs to destroy any animals that threaten to oppose them. Third, the pigs use scapegoating, blaming any problems that arise on Snowball and his infiltrators, rather than their own incompetence. They continue to lie more and more blatantly, and, over time, the bewildered animals don't know what has happened, except that they are no more better off than they were under Farmer Jones.