Last Updated on June 8, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 953
Extended Napoleon Character Analysis
In George Orwell's Animal Farm, Napoleon is a boar who takes part in the revolt against Mr. Jones. Afterwards, he co-leads the farm animals with Snowball. Napoleon is aggressive, militaristic, and manipulative. Although he is not great at public speaking, he is able to get his own way. In the novel's allegory of the Russian Revolution, Napoleon represents Soviet politician Joseph Stalin.
Napoleon, along with Squealer and Snowball, expands upon Old Major’s teachings after his death. Although at first he works alongside Snowball, Napoleon begins to work against him. After the revolt of the animals, Napoleon, Snowball, and the other pigs begin to manage Manor Farm, which they rename “Animal Farm.” The renaming of the farm is akin to the Russian Empire's being renamed the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, or the Soviet Union.
Napoleon, Snowball, and Squealer teach themselves to read and write. With this skill, they create seven commandments. Napoleon and the other pigs establish that pigs will not partake in physical labor. Instead, they will be supervisors of physical labor while doing all the mental work to keep the farm running. This marks a clear division between the leaders in power and the workers without power.
Napoleon dislikes Snowball’s ideas of committees and adult animal education. He believes that it is more important to focus on teaching the young instead of the old. He takes the nine puppies that Jessie and Bluebell birth and begins a strenuous education for them in private. Napoleon also acquires his own following of animals, separate from Snowball, with furtive efforts. At The Battle of the Cowshed, Napoleon plays a minor role, as Snowball is the greater strategist. Yet, later on, Napoleon claims that he was the hero of the battle and declares himself a war hero.
When the animals are divided between Napoleon's and Snowball's views over the creation of a windmill, the pigs put it up for a vote. It is clear that Snowball’s ideas have swayed the animals. Napoleon then calls upon Jessie and Bluebell’s puppies, whom he has now trained into vicious dogs, to run Snowball off the farm. This forced exile represents Leon Trotsky’s exile from the Soviet Union and Joseph Stalin’s rise to power. Like Stalin, Napoleon begins to become a dictator. He uses Squealer as his main source of communication and propaganda.
Napoleon slowly begins to exhibit human attitudes and behaviors. For example, he sells hay, wheat, and the hen’s eggs. The animals can vaguely remember that they had all agreed to never sell, trade, or interact with the humans. Yet, they are all too scared of Napoleon and his dogs to question him.
As Napoleon continues to violate the seven commandments, he has Squealer change the writing to make it seem like the rules had been that way all along. Napoleon is also quick to blame others to save his power, in particular blaming Snowball for the destruction of the windmill and for many problems on the farm. To maintain control through fear, Napoleon executes several animals on the farm when they admit to being in league with Snowball or to committing crimes on the farm. He then abolishes the song Beasts of England, which had been a source of hope and pride for the animals. Napoleon replaces it with his own song.
In Napoleon's dealing with human farms, George Orwell uses the farms as an allegory for prominent countries and their leaders leading up to WWII. The neighboring farm of Foxwood is run by Mr. Pilkington, who represents leaders of the UK and the USA, while Pinchfield Farm is owned by Mr. Frederick, who represents Adolf Hitler, the leader of Nazi Germany.
Napoleon destroys Animal Farm’s good relationship with Foxwood Farm by accepting a trade deal with Pinchfield Farm. Pinchfield Farm then betrays Napoleon. Napoleon fears that Mr. Frederick will attack Animal Farm. When Napoleon tries to ask for help from Foxwood farm, they refuse. This distrust between all the farms and farmers reflects the distrust among Western and European countries in the mid to late 1930s. As Napoleon expected, Mr. Frederick destroys the animals’ windmill and engages in a battle with them. The animals manage to scare Mr. Frederick and his men away.
By the end of the book, Napoleon has become a dictatorial leader. He decides to send Boxer to a horse slaughterer and profits from the animals' labor. He and the other pigs have taken possession of Jones's house. They drink alcohol and sleep on beds, both of which are violations of the original seven commandments. Napoleon brainwashes the other farm animals. They no longer can remember the idealistic beginning of Animal Farm. Napoleon convinces them to believe that “the truest happiness […] lay in working hard and living frugally.” Napoleon and the other pigs begin to walk on two legs. As much as this shocks the other animals and violates one of the commandments, Napoleon trains the sheep to support this new practice; they now say, “Four legs good, two legs better!” The other animals find they can't argue.
Eventually, the barn wall has only one commandment: “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” This heralds the rapid changes of the pigs, who begin to wear clothes, carry whips, smoke pipes, and fraternize with humans. Although they do not know it, the animals are back in the same situation as when Mr. Jones ran the farm. Napoleon takes away the animals’ flag, the skull of the Old Major, and changes the name from Animal Farm back to “Manor Farm.” In the end, the other animals can’t tell the difference between the pigs and the men.