Character Analysis: Napoleon

Gabe B. and Tanay B.

Opening Activity

This activity is very similar to Telephone, except it will be done on paper instead of talking. The first person will write a simple sentence that can be easily illustrated on his/her piece of paper. He/she will pass it to the next person, who will draw a picture of the sentence they received. That person will pass his/her drawing on to the next person, who will write a sentence describing the picture, and so on.


In short, if you get a sentence, draw a picture to represent it. If you get a picture, write a sentence describing the picture.

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Overview

Napoleon is a pig who lives on Animal Farm, who is based on the Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin. At the beginning, he made plans with the other animals to get rid of Farmer Jones, but didn't seem corrupt. He used his wisdom to quickly cheat the system of Animalism and become the most powerful animal on the farm. Napoleon was a dictator, and wanted to be the most powerful and animal on the farm. Over the course of the book, he and his fellow pigs violated most of the seven commandments established at the beginning of the book. He changed the commandments in order to make it look like he never broke the rules. Napoleon kept the other animals in line by resorting to cruelty, similar to the methods used by Stalin.

Thesis

Napoleon, a pig in "Animal Farm" by George Orwell, is an allegory of Soviet leader Jospeh Stalin, who took over a movement designed to improve society, and transformed it into his own totalitarian society, similar to what Napoleon did.

Quotes - Beginning

"Napoleon sent for a ladder which they caused to be set against the end wall of the big barn. They explained that by their studies of the past three months the pigs had succeeded in reducing the principles of Animalism to Seven Commandments." (Orwell, pg. 30)


"Napoleon sent for pots of black and white paint and led the way down to the five-barred gate that gave on to the main road." (Orwell, pg. 30)


"According to Napoleon, what the animals must do was to procure firearms and train themselves in the use of them. According to Snowball, they must send out more and more pigeons and stir up rebellion among the animals on the other farms." (Orwell, pg. 67)


"Every day Snowball and Napoleon sent out flights of pigeons whose instructions were to mingle with the animals on neighbouring farms, tell them the story of the Rebellion, and teach them the tune of Beasts of England." (Orwell, pg. 48)


Analysis: This shows what Napoleon was like at the beginning of the story. He wanted to overthrow Farmer Jones and take control over the farm just as much as everyone else, and he was just someone all the animals looked up to, so he did his best to lead the rebellion in the right direction and maintain order on the farm after Jones left. At the beginning, Napoleon looked like a likable and responsible pig, who understood his duties and what he must do to keep the farm running properly. At the beginning, he truly looked like a strong leader, just like Stalin initially appeared to the people, but as he became more and more powerful, he began to take over the farm.


"All animals are equal." (Orwell, pg. 31)


Analysis: Napoleon played a big role in creating the seven commandments. The last and perhaps the most important commandment read "all animals are equal." At first, Napoleon was a strong leader who considered everyone equal, including himself. This reflects one of the key ideas of communism, which is to eliminate social classes and make everyone equal. He seemed to care about all the animals on the farm, and wanted to keep everything going smoothly as it had been going for the past few days. As he became more powerful, he overlooked this commandment especially. and began to consider himself the most powerful and important animal on the farm. But eventually, he would be the one to violate this commandment, and change it to make it look like he was still following the rules.

Quotes - Middle

"The pigs had set aside the harness-room as a headquarters for themselves." (Orwell, pg. 40)


Analysis: This happened in the middle of the book, when the pigs started to make themselves more powerful while suppressing the other animals. The fact that the pigs set aside a small room for headquarters isn't a very big deal, but it shows how the pigs are being unfair to the other animals and how they are starting to take control over the lives of the other animals. This is comparable to how Stalin began to slowly go against the rules of communism and begin to change a communist state into a totalitarian state.


"That evening Squealer explained privately to the other animals that Napoleon had never in reality been opposed to the windmill. On the contrary, it was he who had advocated it in the beginning, and the plan which Snowball had drawn on the floor of the incubator shed had actually been stolen from among Napoleon's papers. The windmill was, in fact, Napoleon's own creation. Why, then, asked somebody, had he spoken so strongly against it? Here Squealer looked very sly. That, he said, was Comrade Napoleon's cunning. He had seemed to oppose the windmill, simply as a maneuver to get rid of Snowball, who was a dangerous character and a bad influence. Now that Snowball was out of the way, the plan could go forward without his interference." (Orwell, pg. 76)


"Do not imagine, comrades, that leadership is a pleasure. On the contrary, it is a deep and heavy responsibility. No one believes more firmly than Comrade Napoleon that all animals are equal. He would be only too happy to let you make your decisions for yourselves. But sometimes you might make the wrong decisions, comrades, and then where should we be?"

(Orwell, pg. 73)


Analysis: Napoleon used propaganda to conveys his messages to the people through Squealer, who is a puppet controlled by Napoleon. The propaganda Napoleon uses makes the animals think that Napoleon is the best, and Snowball is a traitor. Through the heavy use of propaganda, all the animals blindly believe everything Napoleon says, including the fact that Snowball was a traitor and the windmill was originally Napoleon's idea. Because Squealer all the talking, the other animals are more inclined to believe him, which is ultimately what allows Napoleon to turn the farm into his totalitarian society. This is similar to what Stalin did, when he made himself look like a smart and caring person, who was responsible for all the good things that happened to the Soviet people, even though that wasn't what Stalin did.

Quotes - End

"Napoleon now called upon them to confess their crimes. They were the same four pigs as had protested when Napoleon abolished the Sunday Meetings. Without any further prompting they confessed that they had been secretly in touch with Snowball ever since his expulsion, that they had collaborated with him in destroying the windmill, and that they had entered into an agreement with him to hand over Animal Farm to Mr. Frederick. They added that Snowball had privately admitted to them that he had been Jones' secret agent for years past. When they had finished their confession, the dogs promptly tore their throats out, and in a terrible voice Napoleon demanded whether any other animal had anything to confess. The three hens who had been the ringleaders in the attempted rebellion over the eggs now came forward and stated that Snowball had appeared to them in a dream and incited them to disobey Napoleon's orders. They, too, were slaughtered. Then a goose came forward and confessed to having secreted six ears of corn during the last year's harvest and eaten them in the night. Then a sheep confessed to having urinated in the drinking pool — urged to do this, so she said, by Snowball..." (Orwell, pg. 108)


"They were all slain on the spot. 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." (Orwell, pg. 109)


Analysis: All the animals that were killed by Napoleon's dogs hadn't committed a crime; they were just scared and made up a crime to be saved from a worse fate in the future. The killing of all these animals is based on the Great Purge of the 1930s, when Stalin killed all of his known and assumed enemies. All the people that Stalin killed weren't guilty of a crime. Many were forced to publicly admit that they had committed a crime which they really hadn't, and were then killed. This is an example of how Napoleon resorted to cruelty in order to maintain order on the farm.



"The source of the trouble appeared to be that Napoleon and Mr. Pilkington had each played an ace of spades simultaneously. Twelve voices were shouting in anger, and they were all alike. No question, now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which." (Orwell, pg. 178)


"All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others." (Orwell, pg. 170)


Analysis: Napoleon was one of the most involved pigs in creating the original seven commandments of Animalism, and towards the end, he becomes the primary pig in changing the seven commandments into one, which reads "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others." At the beginning, Naopleon emphasized that humans were the only bad creature, but towards the end, he realized that he had become too much like humans, so he needed to change the commandments to keep himself clean.

Conclusion

Napoleon was written as an allegory for Joseph Stalin which is shown in the story for several reasons such as that Napoleon forced false confessions from perceived enemies to execute them without losing public support just like Stalin in the great purge in the 1930's and how he and Stalin both rewrote laws to better support themselves. Napoleon never cared about how the rest of the animals on the farm were doing, only about how he could become more powerful and have an easier life. George Orwell wrote this satire to illustrate the issues going on in Soviet Russia to the common masses.

Discussion Questions

1. Why did Orwell decide to portray Joseph Stalin and the Stalinists as pigs, instead of some other animal?


2.What motivated Napoleon to become a corrupt leader and take total control of the farm, contrary to how he was at the beginning?


3. Why did Orwell write a story instead of just writing an essay and systematically proving his point?


4.Why did Orwell choose the name Napoleon?


5. What are some present day examples of government corruption and propaganda?