In Animal Farm, Napoleon is an allusion to Stalin, the tyrannical leader of the Soviet Union. Unsurprisingly, we can find lots of examples of quotes which demonstrate Napoleon’s lust for power and, more importantly, how power increasingly corrupts Napoleon’s character.
Let’s have a look at some examples.
“Never mind the milk, comrades!” cried Napoleon, placing himself in front of the buckets. “That will be attended to. The harvest is more important. Comrade Snowball will lead the way. I shall follow in a few minutes. Forward, comrades! The hay is waiting.”
Here is our first glimpse of Napoleon’s taste for power. Instead of sharing out the milk, Napoleon keeps it for the pigs’ mash. What does this tell us about Napoleon and power? Well, this first glimpse tells us that Napoleon intends to take power as soon as possible – literally, the day after Mr. Jones has gone.
As soon as they were weaned, Napoleon took them away from their mothers, saying that he would make himself responsible for their education. He took them up into a loft which could only be reached by a ladder from the harness-room, and there kept them in such seclusion that the rest of the farm soon forgot their existence.
Don’t be fooled by Napoleon’s lies about educating the puppies. As we will see in Chapter Five, Napoleon’s definition of education is training the puppies to be his own personal bodyguards. This shows us that Napoleon is prepared to use violence in order to take power from Snowball – even though it directly contravenes the principles of Animalism.
At this there was a terrible baying sound outside, and nine enormous dogs wearing brass-studded collars came bounding into the barn. They dashed straight for Snowball, who only sprang from his place just in time to escape their snapping jaws.
Napoleon’s violent expulsion of Snowball from the farm reveals his true colours to the reader: that he is prepared to move against anyone who threatens his ascent to power – even if that person is a fellow pig. Don’t forget that this scene is also an allusion to Stalin’s expulsion of Trotsky from the Soviet Union in 1929. Just like Napeolon, Stalin could not bear to have the people wooed by the charisma and ideas of another person.
He announced that from now on the Sunday-morning Meetings would come to an end. They were unnecessary, he said, and wasted time. In future all questions relating to the working of the farm would be settled by a special committee of pigs, presided over by himself.
Napoleon’s desire for power doesn’t just express itself through violence. His decision to end the Sunday-morning meetings puts an end to any sense of democracy that the farm once had. Napoleon is, therefore, cementing his power by taking control of the organisation and management of the farm.
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.
The image of bloody corpses standing at Napoleon’s feet is a powerful one, not just because it is vivid, but because it shows that Napelon will stop at nothing to maintain his power. He will murder the innocent without a single thought about the moral implications. In terms of allusions, this mirrors the Stalinist purges and show trials of the 1930s. This is a real turning point in the novel because it shows that Napoleon has himself become a symbol of tyranny, just as Stalin did in the Soviet Union.
Napoleon was now never spoken of simply as “Napoleon.” He was always referred to in formal style as “our Leader, Comrade Napoleon,” and this pigs liked to invent for him such titles as Father of All Animals, Terror of Mankind, Protector of the Sheep-fold, Ducklings’ Friend, and the like.
By Chapter Eight, Napoleon’s power also extends to the creation of a cult of personality, the same cult that Stalin created in the Soviet Union. These titles depict Napoleon as a sort of demi-god, as being special or different from other animals, and as someone who deserves praise and admiration. By constantly bombarding the animals with this sort of propaganda, Napoleon’s power grows and grows.
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