Animal Farm Questions and Answers
by George Orwell

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Why is Napoleon a bad leader in Animal Farm?

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Felicita Burton eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In George Orwell’s novel, more than any other character, Napoleon embodies the idea that power corrupts. He is a bad leader because he is selfish, manipulative, and power-hungry. Because we learn little of the backstory leading up to the revolution, we can only speculate about the “why” behind Napoleon’s poor leadership. That is, Orwell does not tell us if Napoleon was a more community-spirited pig when he was just one more oppressed farm animal among many. Once he gained a leadership position, however, the pig clearly enjoyed its benefits.

As he became more interested in building himself up, he also decided that meant tearing others down—thus the exile of Snowball. His own insecurity and suspicion that others would do exactly the same motivate him to suppress dissent. The idea of a healthy democracy in which different points of view are evaluated does not appeal to him. Consolidating control and enforcing his dominance, such as with the violent canine corps, becomes an end in itself. The constant vigilance he must exert in securing his position leaves Napoleon no time to apply to effective leadership.

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Susana Scanlon eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Napoleon os a bad leader for a number of reasons. He is a brutal and callous dictator.

Napoleon and Snowball were both instrumental in the animals' revolt, but Napoleon does not want to share the credit. He steals Snowball's idea to build a windmill. Snowball is eventually banished from the farm when Napoleon accuses him of trying to sabotage the revolution, and animals that supported Snowball are killed on Napoleon's orders.

Napoleon trains puppies to be his special police forces. These forces terrorize the farm and protect Napoleon from any and all threats—both real and imagined.

Napoleon controls the economy and collects all the produce. He lives like a king while most of the other animals barely have enough to eat. He ruthlessly exploits the animals and convinces them their sacrifices are needed for the revolution, but the animals are worse off than before the revolution.

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mwestwood eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Napoleon is a malevolent...

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