Napoleon in Animal Farm: Character, Allegory & Analysis

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

In 'Animal Farm', the author, George Orwell develops an allegory, or metaphorical representation, of the Russian Revolution. In this lesson, we will look at their new leader, Napoleon, and compare him to the world leader he is intended to symbolize.

Time for Change

When the animals of Manor Farm are sufficiently fed up with Mr. Jones's neglect, they know it is time for a change in leadership. Will their new leader be any better? Let's look at Napoleon's rise to power, his leadership style, and his symbolism for Soviet leader, Joseph Stalin in Animal Farm by George Orwell.

Napoleon is a Berkshire boar.
Berkshire boar

Napoleon's Rise to Power

After the Rebellion, Napoleon is one of the pigs that emerges as a leader on the farm. As the only Berkshire boar on Manor Farm, Napoleon has been well cared for by Mr. Jones. The narrator describes him as 'not much of a talker, but with a reputation for getting his own way.' As time goes on, Napoleon becomes dissatisfied with sharing the leadership role and begins to view Snowball as a threat. As tension grows between Napoleon and Snowball, Napoleon bides his time and waits for his opportunity.

The differences between the classes of animals begins to show on the first day when, under Napoleon's leadership, the pigs take all of the milk while the working class animals labored in the fields. Napoleon shows his lack of empathy for the animals when he takes the puppies away from their mothers in order to educate them. However, the animals soon learn his true intentions when the puppies are turned into attack dogs who chase Snowball off of the farm on Napoleon's order so that Napoleon can take over as the sole dictator of the farm.

Napoleon's Dictatorship

The democratic process ends completely when Napoleon announces that a committee led by him will make all decisions for the farm. After Snowball is out of the way, Napoleon adopts Snowball's idea of building the windmill, which requires the other animals to work long, hard hours seven days a week. Napoleon tells them that their 'work was strictly voluntary, but any animal who absented himself from it would have his rations reduced by half.' The dogs are used to control protests. The scarcity of food that is created through the hours of building the windmill is hidden from visitors to the farm so that people in the surrounding community believe they are doing well.

Napoleon separates himself more from the other animals as he stays in the farmhouse guarded by dogs and only comes out for ceremonies. When animals disagree with him or even dream of conspiring against him with Snowball, they are publicly executed. 'And so the tale of confessions and executions went on, until there was a pile of corpses lying before Napoleon's feet and the air was heavy with the smell of blood, which had been unknown there since the expulsion of Jones.'

Showing no loyalty, when Boxer, the hardworking horse, becomes older, Napoleon sells him to a glue factory and uses the money to buy whiskey for a party for the pigs. In the end, Napoleon is no different from the men the animals worked so hard to revolt against.

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