Napoleon (Animal Farm)
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|First appearance||Animal Farm|
|Last appearance||Animal Farm (Only Appearance)|
|Created by||George Orwell|
|Occupation||President of Animal Farm|
Napoleon is a fictional character and the main antagonist in George Orwell's Animal Farm. While he is at first a common farm pig, he gets rid of Snowball, another pig which shares the power. He then takes advantage of the animals' uprising against their masters to eventually become the tyrannical "President" of Animal Farm, which he turns into a dictatorship.
Napoleon in the allegory
Napoleon was based on Joseph Stalin, who ruled the Soviet Union for over 35 years. He begins his treachery by taking Bluebell and Jessie's puppies for himself with the intention of turning them into a secret police. Napoleon chooses the date of the meeting concerning the farm's new windmill to turn on his former comrade and seize control of the farm; this mirrors the relationship between Stalin and Leon Trotsky. Trotsky supported Permanent Revolution (just as Snowball advocated overthrowing other farm owners), while Stalin supported Socialism in One Country (similar to Napoleon's idea of teaching the animals to use firearms). When it seems Snowball will win the election for his plans, Napoleon calls in the dogs he has raised loyally to chase Snowball from the farm. This is the first time the dogs have been seen since Napoleon took them in and proceeded to raise them as his secret police.
Later on, after ostracizing Snowball, Napoleon ordered the construction of the windmill, which had been designed by Snowball and which he had opposed vigorously (just as Stalin opposed Trotsky's push for large scale industrialization, then adopted it as a policy when Trotsky was in exile), so as to show the animals that he could be just as inventive as Snowball. Other animals are told it was Napoleon's idea, but Snowball stole it. When the primitive windmill collapses due to Napoleon's poor planning after a storm, a reference to Stalin's backward approach to the Five-Year Plans, he blames Snowball and starts a wave of terror. During this period he orders the execution of several of the animals after coercing their "confessions" of wrongdoing. He also secretly changes the Seven Commandments' prohibition against killing, drinking, and sleeping in beds, allowing him and his followers to break those commandments while claiming that the amendments were justified (Such as the other animals being killed with cause and drinking only being prohibited to excess). He then commands the building of a second, stronger windmill while severely cutting rations of the animals— except the rations of the pigs and dogs.
He later makes a deal with Frederick (similar to the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact shortly before World War II); Frederick tricks Napoleon by paying him for the timber with counterfeit money and then invading the farm, much as Germany broke its pact with the Soviet Union and invaded. During the Battle of the Windmill, the windmill is destroyed, but the animals win, although they pay a high price. Napoleon attempts to cover the losses by stating it was a grand victory for the animals.
While Napoleon exhorts the other animals to fight and die for the good of the farm, he himself is a coward and a lazy one at that, in contrast to Snowball, who was more concerned with the welfare of his animal friends rather than his power. Nonetheless, Napoleon's corrupt historical revisionism rewrites himself as a hero, claiming responsibility for the animal's victory during the Battle of the Cowshed when in reality it was Snowball who had performed heroic acts in this battle, though his acts are denigrated to bold-faced lies of him collaborating with Jones all along, and openly supporting them during the battle. Snowball was wounded in the back from buckshot, but it is claimed Napoleon inflicted the wounds with his teeth. Napoleon spends most of his time inside, giving his orders through other pigs, like the cunning orator Squealer, who helps spread support for him and changes the commandments. Napoleon declares the Farm a Republic, and a President is elected, Napoleon is the only candidate and elected unanimously.
Ultimately, Napoleon becomes an oppressive dictator and seems to become one of the cruel humans through his adoption of human ways. The pigs start walking on their hind legs and wearing clothes. The commandments are changed to say some animals are more equal than others. At the end of the novel he has decided to abolish the use of "comrade," and declares that the farm shall revert to its original name of Manor Farm, reflecting the farm's change of status going back to the beginning.
The novel ends with Napoleon meeting with Pilkington of Foxwood farm and other farmers, who claim the animals here work longer for less food than on other farms they have seen. The pigs have become so much like humans, both in behavior and appearance, that the animals watching through a window from the outside cannot tell man and pig apart. He and Pilkington fight after they both draw an Ace of Spades at a card game.
In the ending of the 1954 film, Napoleon wears dictator-like clothing and pictures of him are put up. In this version, the story ends with a mob of animals led by Benjamin seemingly killing Napoleon and the other pigs when they destroy the farmhouse's dining room, where he and the other pigs are having a meeting. This rather unsubtle change to a "happy" ending was done to make the story more politically correct, while at the same time abandoning Orwell's overall theme, which is the inevitability of mass uprisings removing one dictator, only to put another in his place. The 1999 film did not feature a specific revolution against Napoleon, but it did feature several animals fleeing his regime to hide in an area outside the farm, returning only after Napoleon's madness resulted in the destruction of the old farm and the death of him and his followers.
- Orwell, George. Animal Farm, page 141, Signet Classics, 1996. ISBN 978-0-451-52634-2