Explore the ways in which Orwell changes the reader’s attitudes toward Napoleon in Animal Farm.
‘Animal Farm’ is a satirical allegory which mocks Communism and the Soviet Union. Orwell does this by subtly criticising every aspect of communism by using the parallel parable of animals on a farm. Orwell himself refers to the book as a fairy tale. This is clear from the simple, almost child-like style that the book is written in. Orwell writes in this fashion to give him license to ridicule Communism and Stalin without being too controversial and direct. Joseph Stalin is represented in ‘Animal Farm’ by the “large, rather fierce-looking Berkshire boar”: Napoleon. He “was not much of a talker but with a reputation of getting his own way.” This is how Napoleon is first introduced in the book. At first Napoleon is portrayed as a quiet but resourceful pig as he “served out a double ration of corn to everybody.” The celebrative and joyful tone of this sentence reflects the freedom and happiness that the animals felt. The repetition of “Snowball and Napoleon” when orders are given by the pair suggest that they were the ones in charge. However Snowball being mentioned first every time suggests that he seemed destined to become the next leader of the farm (just like Trotsky- his parallel- had been in Russia). At first he was just seen as an alternative leader with different ideas as he “took no interest in Snowball’s committees”. The first allusion to Napoleon’s true motives takes place when he distracts the animals so he can take the milk and apples for the pigs. “That will be attended to” he said. The short sentence alludes to the selfish intentions that Napoleon was concealing. This is the point where the transformation of Napoleon by Orwell began; from a seemingly calm and composed potential leader to the exploitative dictator that he eventually becomes.
Further negative characteristics of Napoleon are displayed in the following pages. He is not mentioned at all during “the battle of the cowshed,” which alludes to his cowardice and weakness of character. Napoleon “urinated over the plans” that Snowball had created to better the life of the animals. This shocking event in a so-far conservative and innocent book -along with the long sentence that it happens in- draws attention to the fact that Napoleon was counter-productive and power hungry rather than actually wanting to improve the animals’ quality of life. Further evidence of this is that: “Napoleon produced no schemes of his own.” This apparently solid statement is riddled with irony since all Napoleon did do was scheme- but just nothing productive. For example when he took the puppies “away from their mothers” and “the farm soon forgot of their existence.” The fate of these dogs is soon revealed as Napoleon “uttered a high-pitched whimper” and “nine enormous dogs wearing brass-studded collars came bounding into the barn. They dashed straight for Snowball”. The powerful verbs and adjectives: “enormous,” “bounding,” and “dashed,” allude to the intensity of Napoleon’s evilness and his complete willingness to utilise force and exploitation to achieve his self-seeking aims. His expulsion of Snowball also hints to his shrewd and cunning personalities as he had been planning for this for a long time. This is the first major action that Napoleon does that confirms and exposes his exploitative and selfish tendencies.
The reader’s attitude towards Napoleon is further changed and developed when he uses a combination of Squealer, the growling dogs and the sheep’s bleating chorus of “four legs good, two legs bad,” to eliminate any possible opposition to his position of power. Later “Napoleon announced that the windmill was to be built after all.” This was an endeavour that Napoleon had previously been bitterly opposed to. However Squealer justified this action by saying that “Napoleon had never in reality been opposed to the windmill,” but it had been his idea from the start.