Bad Things Napoleon does in Animal Farm

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Leadership is all about power and the influence it can have. Leaders use their power to get things done. There are two kinds of power. One of them is socialized power in which the leader uses their power for the good of the people. The other kind of power is called personalized power in which the leader uses their power for personal gain (McClelland). Power leads people to be corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely (Lord Acton). In his quote, Lord Acton proves that humans who are hungry for power will become corrupt. George Orwell’s Animal Farm shows Napoleon, a pig is hungry for power which causes him to be corrupt.

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“Bad Things Napoleon does in Animal Farm”

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At the time when George Orwell wrote his novel, leaders were power-hungry and corrupt. Animal Farm was written during a violent time of World War II and its’ events are parallel to the Russian Revolution. The Russian Revolution happened in 1917 where the hard working people of Russia rose up against the corrupt government of Tsar Nicholas II. The two most important leaders of the time that led the revolution were Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin. The new government that was created was much worse than the one that was there before (George, ix). Animal Farm is a novel in which the animals at Mr. Jones’ Manor Farm come together to hear Old Major, a pig describe his dream about a world where all the animals could live free from humans. Old Major dies soon afterwards. Animals inspired from Old Major’s speech revolt against Mr. Jones and his man. In the beginning, the rebellion is a success. However, they are later betrayed by the evil power-hungry pigs who are ruled by Napoleon and forced to return to their former servitude. Through the character Napoleon, Orwell shows how despotic leaders will use their power for their own personal benefit and how they will take advantage of others. Despotic leaders are rulers that care little for the welfare of the people and care more about themselves. This connects to Lord Acton’s quote because Napoleon a despotic leader gains total control and becomes absolutely corrupt. The author shows through Napoleon, that leaders will use their power for personal benefit and in order to remain in their position of power they will show justification through the use of propaganda and fear.

Napoleon, the pig is in a lot of ways similar to Mr. Jones. From the beginning of the novel, Napoleon is seen as a corrupt opportunist. The biggest rival that he goes up against is Snowball. Snowball is very public about his ideas while Napoleon is very secretive and is not much of a talker. Napoleon and Snowball prepare for the Rebellion much alike and have many similar goals. Old Major’s dream is important for both of them. The ideal society preached by Old Major is to be set up after the Rebellion. Napoleon doesn’t make any contribution to the building of the new society of Animal Farm. While the other animals were given work, Napoleon did not actually work. With [his] superior knowledge it was natural that [he] should assume leadership (27). This quote proves that his intentions are not for the benefit of others but rather on how he can gain power over them.

In comparison, Snowball’s ideas are to benefit all of the animals. At the start, the revolution seems good for the animals, they set up seven commandants/rules that they must follow, they have a Sunday meeting every week, and Snowball was trying to set up the perfect society in which every animal could enjoy their life. However, that quickly changes when Napoleon comes to power. Napoleon symbolizes a despotic ruler. For example, Throughout the spring and summer they worked a sixty-hour week, and in August Napoleon announced that there would be work on Sunday afternoons as well. This was strictly voluntary, but any animal who absented himself would have his rations cut by half (59). This shows how corrupt Napoleon has already gotten. Napoleon is taking advantage of other animals for his own personal benefit. This keeps others busy from questioning Napoleon’s rule which helps him maintain power.

In order to keep his power and make sure other animals believe in what he does is right he uses propaganda through a character named Squealer. Napoleon choose Squealer to be his spokesperson. Squealer is great at persuading others. One example of this is in the beginning of the novel when Squealer is described as the one who could turn black into white (16). This shows how Squealer can easily make other animals believe in what he says is true even though it might not be the case. Throughout the novel, Napoleon uses Squealer to justify his own actions through the use of propaganda. Squealer describes events like the Battle of the Cowshed, one of the battles that were fought during the rebellion with a little twist. Squealer’s version of Snowball’s part of the battle describes that Snowball was actually planning to leave the field to the enemy (54). In addition, Squealer describes how Napoleon was the one who charged forward with a cry of ?death to humanity!’ and sank his teeth into Mr. Jones’s leg when everything was so chaotic (54). During his speech, Squealer describes events in so much detail that it seemed to the animals that they did remember it (54). In resolution, Napoleon uses his spokesperson Squealer and his propaganda in order to make other animals believe that Napoleon is the rightful person to trust and Snowball was on the side of the enemy. This means that Napoleon can use his power and propaganda in order to get what he wants and anything that happens wrong on the farm he can blame Snowball.

Another kind of propaganda that is used by Napoleon is when the pigs modify the seven commandments. These seven commandments were rules that were preached by Old Major. These rules were created for the purpose of equality. However, throughout the novel, the pigs change all of the commandments in order to justify what Napoleon did was right. For example, in the beginning, the sixth of the seven commandments read No animal shall be killed by any other animal (15). However, in order to justify the killing of the animals by Napoleon, the pigs changed the rule to No animal shall be killed by any other animal without cause (61). As a result, Napoleon’s actions for killing other animals on the farm was rationalized because Squealer made the other animals believe that a few words from the commandment was slipped from their memory. Because the other animals were not as clever as the pigs they didn’t notice that the pigs changed these commandments. These animals relied on what Squealer said was true. Therefore, Squealer could easily modify the seven commandments and teach the animals to what was right and what was wrong. Because the other animals did not notice this, they didn’t think badly of Napoleon’s use of cruelty and violence. In addition, this shows how Napoleon is a despotic leader who will use propaganda to justify his own actions.

Equally important to the use of propaganda is Napoleon’s use of fear. Napoleon and Squealer use fear of the return of Jones to make sure that other animals would willingly agree to their terms. Whenever Napoleon’s decision is questioned, Squealer would employ these techniques. In the literary analysis essay Language as Theme in Animal Farm Samir Elbarbary argues that Squealer is the apologist par excellence for the new corps of leaders (37). This quote proves that Squealer was a defender of Napoleon in how he justified Napoleon’s actions whenever they were questioned. An example of when he defends his ideas is when the pigs stole milk and apples, Squealer said that if the pigs were not healthy enough to watch over the animals’ welfare, Jones would come back (Orwell 22). The fear of Jones ever coming back made the other animals immediately stop questioning Napoleon’s decisions. Whenever the other animals heard that Jones could come back, they would accept his decision no matter if it was right or wrong. This both shows how Napoleon gets what he wants through the use of fear and also how it keeps the other animals busy from questioning what Napoleon does is right.

Another kind of fear that Napoleon uses is his use of dogs. The first time Napoleon uses them is when Snowball is done speaking for the Windmill project, They dashed straight for Snowball, who only sprang from his place just in time to escape their snapping jaws (20). This was the turning point of the story because now Napoleon is the one who emerges into power. The presence of Napoleon’s dogs caused fear in every other animal on the farm. This illustrates how Napoleon is a despotic leader who will use other animals for his benefit and when his decisions are questioned he will use fear through the use of his dogs.

Another example of this is when the dogs adopt Napoleon to be their master They kept close to Napoleon. It was noticed that they wagged their tails to him in the same way as the other dogs had been the same way as the other dogs had been used to do to Mr. Jones (21). In this quote, the dogs loyalty is similar in the way to that of Jones. This foreshadows the growth of similarity between human and pig. When Mr. Jones had control over the farm, he threatened and controlled the other animals, using them for labor and personal benefit. The dogs used to wag their tails towards Mr. Jones and now they are wagging their tails towards Napoleon thus showing the power that Napoleon has gained throughout the novel. Also, there is an example when Napoleon orders his dogs to slaughter the four pigs that were questioning his authority. When they have finished confession, the dogs promptly tore their throats out (34). This was the first time the dogs actually were used to kill other animals. Before, the dogs were used to cause fear through their presence and the possibility of them attacking others in order to cause other animals to follow Napoleon’s plans but now it shows even more terror because if the other animals weren’t sure of Napoleon’s cruelty they are sure of it now. This proves that Napoleon is a ruthless leader who uses his dogs to make sure other animals agree to his decisions.

Boxer is a hard working horse that is being taken advantage of by Napoleon. Boxer is unaware of that Napoleon has made him be the main worker of the windmill. Boxer is used by Orwell to show how leaders exploit the working class for their own personal gains. In the literary analysis essay Animal Farm: An Allegory of Revolution Valerie Meyers states that Boxer’s role in the novel is to show the decent working man, fired by enthusiasm for the egalitarian ideal, working overtime in the factories or on the land, willing to die to defend his country (27). Boxer is a perfect example of a leader’s ideal follower because he is both hard working and loyal. One of the main quotes Napoleon is always right shows his loyalty to Napoleon. Boxer is always striving to be better, work harder. During the time when they were building the windmill, Boxer worked really hard, sometimes even working overnight. Even when times were hard, Boxer was still able to find determination. When the Battle of the Windmill occurred, the windmill was destroyed by Fredrick’s man and Boxer was extremely injured with bleeding knees, a split hoof and a dozen pellets wedged deeply in his hind leg. This battle refers to the war between Nazi and the Allies that was fought in WWII. Even though Boxer was badly injured, he began hard work and refused to take a day off. After a long time of work, Boxer falls ill because of aging and is sent to the slaughter van by the pigs and was boiled into glue. This passage is written out of controlled and icy hatred for the cynicism of the Soviet system “ but also out of despair for all deluded people who served it gladly. (Baker vii) This quote shows both the corruption of the Soviet system (Napoleon’s system) and how brainwashed people were at that time. This is a perfect example of how despotic rules take advantage of others for their own personal benefit.

Because of his constant use of fear and propaganda, Napoleon transforms from being a boar into Jones. Napoleon’s transformation is used to represent Joseph Stalin’s complete transformation into being Tsar Nicolas II. Some examples of Napoleon’s transformation are that in the end, Napoleon sleeps in Jones’s bed, eats from Jones’s plate, drinks alcohol, walks on two legs, trades with humans and shares a toast with Mr. Fredrick. Also, at the end of the novel, when the other animals watch the pigs through the windows they noticed that twelve voices were shouting in anger, and they were all alike. No question, now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. [They] looked from pig to man, and man to pig, and from man to pig, and from pig to men again; but it was impossible to say which was which (141). This quote portrays how these pigs looked exactly like the humans and there is no way to tell who was who. This quote shows that leaders who use constant fear and propaganda will transform into being despotic leaders who take advantage of others. Also, this shows how the pigs governed by Napoleon have completely taken control of the farm and are in no way different than when it was when Jones was ruling them.

Through the character Napoleon and his manipulation of Squealer and Boxer, Orwell shows how corrupt leaders will use their power for their own good and how they will take advantage of others. He shows how leaders use whatever is in their power to remain in that position and show justification of their actions through the use of propaganda. Using propaganda and fear, the novel shows how a revolution with intentions of equality can turn into a brutal state in which the corrupt leaders take over. The big message that the author tried to prove was to show people the real truth of the Soviet Union in how despotic leaders like Joseph Stalin used other people for their own personal gain and how they used propaganda and fear to justify their own actions.

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Bad Things Napoleon Does in Animal Farm. (2019, Jul 10). Retrieved January 29, 2023 , from

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