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Napoleon's Quotes from Animal Farm

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  • 0:00 Introduction to Animal Farm
  • 0:42 Who Is Napoleon?
  • 1:54 Napoleon Comes into His Power
  • 3:40 Napoleon, Dictator of…
  • 6:19 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Liz Breazeale
George Orwell's Animal Farm is a well-known and widely read work because of its memorable storyline and characters. In this lesson, learn about one of those characters, Napoleon, and test yourself with a quiz.

Introduction to Animal Farm

George Orwell's novella Animal Farm, an allegory, or work containing a hidden meaning. It was published in 1945 with a political message: a critique of the Soviet Union and its dictator Joseph Stalin.

In the novella, the animals of Manor Farm rebel against their idiot master, Mr. Jones, and take over the farm, rechristening it Animal Farm. The pigs, the smartest of all the animals, place themselves at the top of the totem pole. One such pig, Napoleon, takes command in a quick and violent coup d'etat, or a seizure of power.

Who Is Napoleon?

Napoleon is a huge boar and is one of the pigs who rule Animal Farm. Napoleon's quiet exterior hides a deep reserve of cunning and cruelty that is revealed over time. He and his fellow pigs, Snowball and Squealer, originally formed the leadership of the farm. Snowball is more idealistic and upbeat than Napoleon, while Squealer is a charismatic speaker. Napoleon and Snowball appear to be friendly at first, but grow increasingly antagonistic.

You've probably heard the old saying, 'Never trust a politician.' Well, someone should have told the animals of the farm the same thing. Everything starts out fine and dandy, then Napoleon uses the farm's vicious dogs and his propaganda guy, Squealer, in a bid for power. With their help, Napoleon stages a coup and runs off Snowball, his only potential political rival. Gradually, Squealer becomes more and more important to Napoleon because he is the one who communicates to all the animals Napoleon's policy changes and reasons with the animals whenever they doubt their leader. Every politician needs a spin team, right?

Napoleon Comes into His Power

Napoleon says a lot of things throughout the story, but many of which contradict each other. Nevertheless, Napoleon is a stubborn speaker, and he uses his right hand man Squealer as a public relations tool. Squealer is able to convince the animals of anything Napoleon says, even if it's unfair.

The Seven Commandments of Animalism are rules regarding animal behavior and equality, separating animals from humans. During his rise to power, Napoleon and Squealer teach the farm's sheep to distill these commandments down to one phrase. The sheep bleat whenever Napoleon senses a possible dispute over a change: 'Four legs good, two legs bad.' The sheep take this up as a mantra, or a repetitive chant. This contributes in a large way to Napoleon's increasing power, as nobody ever has a chance to argue against him. This mantra is then amended at the end of the story to reflect the eventual evolution of the pigs into near-human monsters: 'Four legs good, two legs better.'

Napoleon's propaganda campaign is very effective, and he easily manipulates the animals. For example, he creates an outside enemy in order to convince the animals to rebuild their windmill after it is damaged. He blames everything that goes wrong on the farm on Snowball and his treason. 'Snowball has done this,' is one of Napoleon's most popular phrases, garnering support for himself while finding a scapegoat, or someone to bear the blame, to distract the animals from their impoverished state. But things get worse very quickly.

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