Napoleon (Animal Farm)
|First appearance||Animal Farm|
|Last appearance||Animal Farm (Only Appearance)|
|Created by||George Orwell|
Maurice Denham (1954 film) |
Patrick Stewart (1999 film)
|Occupation||President (Dictator) of Animal Farm|
Our Leader, Comrade Napoleon, Father of All Animals, Terror of Mankind, Protector of the Sheep-fold, or Ducklings' Friend is a fictional character and the main antagonist in George Orwell's Animal Farm. He is described as "a large, rather fierce-looking Berkshire boar" who is "not much of a talker" and has "a reputation for getting his own way". While he is at first a common farm pig, he exiles Snowball, another pig, who is his rival for power, and 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's greatest crime, however, is his complete transformation into Mr. Jones (original owner of Animal Farm), although Napoleon is a much more harsh and stern master than Mr. Jones is made out to be.
In some early French-language versions of Animal Farm, the pig is named César. More recent translations keep the original name.
Napoleon in the allegory
Napoleon was based on Joseph Stalin, who ruled the Soviet Union from 1922 to 1953. He is presumed to be named after the French emperor. Napoleon and Snowball 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, instead). When it seems Snowball will win the election for his plans, Napoleon calls in the dogs he has raised to chase Snowball from the farm. This is the first time the dogs have been seen since Napoleon took them in and raised them to act 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. The other animals are told it was Napoleon's idea and that Snowball had stolen it. When the primitive windmill collapses after a storm, due to Napoleon's poor planning (a reference to Stalin's backward approach to the Five-Year Plans), Napoleon blames Snowball and starts a wave of terror (a reference to the Great Purge). During this period, he orders the execution of several of the animals after coercing their "confessions" of wrongdoing. He then commands the building of a second, stronger windmill, while severely cutting rations of the animals, except those 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 and invaded the Soviet Union). During the Battle of the Windmill, the windmill is destroyed; although the animals win, they pay a high price. Napoleon attempts to cover the losses by stating it was a grand victory for the animals.
Although 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 than his power. Napoleon uses corrupt historical revisionism to portray himself as a hero, claiming responsibility for the animals' victory in the Battle of the Cowshed, when in reality it was Snowball who had performed heroic acts in this battle. Snowball's acts are denigrated through baldfaced lies about him collaborating with Jones all along and openly supporting Jones during the battle. Snowball was wounded in the back by 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; as the only candidate, Napoleon is elected unanimously.
During his time in power he also, through Squealer, secretly changes the Seven Commandments' prohibition against killing, drinking, and sleeping in beds, allowing his followers and him to break the original commandments, because the other animals (except for Benjamin, the cynical donkey) are not clever enough to notice, or they blame their own memories if they think they have noticed.
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 near the end of the book. The commandments are changed to say, famously, that all animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.
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. Napoleon tells the other farmers that he has decided to abolish the use of "comrade" and declares that the farm shall revert to its original name of Manor Farm. Pilkington and he, just after declaring their similarities, fight after they both draw an ace of spades at a card game. 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.
In the ending of the 1954 film, Napoleon wears dictator-like clothing and pictures of him are put up signifying a cult of personality. 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 the other pigs and he 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 that remove 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 his own death.
- "Animal Farm Characters". GradeSaver.com. Retrieved 6 February 2014.
- "How Does Napoleon take and maintain control of Animal Farm?". Marked By Teachers. Retrieved 6 February 2014.
- "Napoleon (a pig) in Animal Farm". Shmoop. Retrieved 2014-02-06.
- "Animal Farm: Napoleon (Character analysis)". Cliff's Notes. Retrieved 2014-02-06.
- "SparkNotes: Animal Farm: Napoleon". SparkNotes. Retrieved 6 February 2014.
- Orwell, George. Animal Farm, page 141, Signet Classics, 1996. ISBN 978-0-451-52634-2