Describe an important character in the written text. Explain how this character is revealed to you throughout the text.
An important character in George Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’ is Napoleon, a selfish and controlling boar who represents Joseph Stalin, brutal leader of the Soviet Union. Napoleon uses his position of power to manipulate the truth and lie to the other animals on the farm. However, the animals are unaware of the lies they are being told and believe that Napoleon is a just and good leader, better than any human farmer…
George Orwell wrote ‘Animal Farm’ as a warning against totalitarianism. After World War 2, where he observed Nazi Germany and communist Russian totalitarian societies. Orwell’s intent was to inform and educate readers about dictatorial governments. In ‘Animal Farm’, Napoleon is illustrated as a cruel and selfish dictator. He is important to the text as a whole because he is slowly overrun by power and begins to abuse it - showing that power corrupts.
At the beginning of the novella, Napoleon works with Snowball (an intelligent and loyal pig who represents Leon Trotsky - Russian revolutionary) and Squealer (Napoleon’s second in command pig who represents Russian newspaper PRAVDA - propaganda) to develop a system called Animalism. This system means that all animals have the right to equality and freedom on the farm. The animals are very happy with Napoleon for this and begin to trust him. His true character has not been revealed yet.
Napoleon is an important character because he may seem like a good leader to the other animals, but in reality he is a coward. During the Battle Of The Cowshed ( when the animals chase Mr. Jones the farmer off the farm ) Snowball is brave and helps lead the animals into battle, whereas Napoleon is cowardly and does not fight. This is the sign of a bad leader as Napoleon is happy for the other animals to risk their lives in battle, while he sits back in safety and does nothing. Napoleon’s true nature is slowly starting to reveal itself to the readers and other animals. He is not the brave and valiant leader he appears to be.
Furthermore, Napoleon is an important character because of the way he is hungry for power. For example, Napoleon does not want to share leadership with Snowball, so figures out a way to get rid of him… He uses nine dogs that he had raised and brainwashed since they were puppies to chase Snowball off the farm. These dogs represent the real life KGB (Stalin’s secret police). Napoleon gets Squealer to lie to the animals about the reasoning behind Snowballs expulsion. “Our Leader, Comrade Napoleon’s stated categorically… that Snowball was Jones’ agent from the very beginning…”. Napoleon is revealed to the readers as a manipulative liar who is greedy for power.
Moreover, Napoleon is an important character because of the way he lies and is very deceitful. Napoleon is greedy and selfish and wants to keep the windfall apples from the harvest and the milk for himself and the other pigs. Napoleon gets Squealer to lie to the animals and say that the pigs need to apples and milk because it will be “good” for their brain function. “Milk and apples (this has been proven by science comrades) contains substances absolutely necessary to the well-being of a pig. We pigs are brain workers.” This reveals to the readers Napoleon’s greedy and deceitful nature. Napoleon is linked back to Joseph Stalin, who starved millions in the Ukrainian famine by confiscating food from the peasants.
Additionally, Napoleon is important because of the way he manipulates his position of power and leadership to exploit the other animals. He changes Animal Farm’s Seven Commandments (the rules of Animalism) to suit to his own pleasure. For example, he changes the commandment, ‘No animal shall drink alcohol’ to, ‘No animal shall drink alcohol… to excess’. Napoleon is using his position of power to change this commandment because he loves alcohol and doesn’t care if he gets drunk, because it is for his own pleasure. His carelessness and selfishness is revealed to the readers - along with the way he likes to use his power in ways only suited to himself.
Napoleon is also an important character because of the way he betrays and kills the other farm animals. For example, Napoleon betrays Boxer - a hard working but naïve cart horse. He is the farm’s most loyal worker and represents the hard working backbone of society. Napoleon tricks Boxer into thinking that he will be treated for his injury. Instead, he sends Boxer off to the slaughter house for money. Boxer had always been a hard worker, “I will work harder” and blindly followed Napoleon’s orders, “Napoleon is always right”. Napoleon is revealed to be a murderer and exploiter - whilst still managing to get away with it because of his position of power. This shows that Dictatorial governments should not be trusted.
Lastly, Napoleon is an important character because of the way he becomes as cruel and as repressive as a human farmer - the original enemy. Near the end of the novella, Napoleon carries a whip. This whip symbolizes man and slavery. Napoleon has complete dominance over the animals. He is also seen walking on two legs which is ironic because of the first commandment, ‘Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy’.
At the end of ‘Animal Farm’, Napoleon and the pigs eat dinner in the farmhouse with human farmers. The other animals watch through the window and realize they cannot tell the difference between the pigs and the humans. The pigs are behaving and dressing exactly like humans do. ‘The creatures 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’. Napoleon’s true nature has finally been revealed. He wasn’t actually for Animalism, nor for the farm’s freedom. He was just for his own power, and had grown corrupt and had gone full circle. He was what Animalism was against.
Throughout ‘Animal Farm’ Napoleon was revealed to be more and more like Communist leader, Joseph Stalin. He became corrupted by power and wasn’t afraid of killing and lying to get his own way. Napoleon goes from the animals’ hero at the beginning of the novella, to the animals’ worst nightmare - before they even realize it. Napoleon is revealed to be cowardly, manipulative, deceitful, murderous, and worse than Mr. Jones ever was. Napoleon has been devoured and corrupted by power.
In conclusion, Napoleon uses his position of power to manipulate the truth and get his own way. Napoleon’s true character is revealed to the readers more and more when he starts to lie about a lot of things, gets rid of other animals for no reason, uses his power for his own pleasure, and acts and behaves like a human. The readers realize that everything has gone full circle, and that the animals have gone back to the - if not worse, beginning.