Napoleon’s Methods of Domination (Animal Farm)
Napoleon rises to power by taking part in the revolution and co ing the Commandments of Animalism. Napoleon’s position as the rebellion’s co-instigator confers upon him an unquestioned role of authority. Napoleon’s private agenda is first indicated over the cows’ milk. “Never mind the milk!” claims Napoleon, asserting his authority and responsibility, while allowing himself the opportunity to consume a luxury item. Soon, all the milk, as well as the apples, follow Napoleon’s precedent, going directly to the pigs for their private consumption… reinforcing the growing social gap between the pigs and the rest of the animals: the pigs do not work… they supervise.
Napoleon claims that “the education of the young was more important than anything…”, and commandeers Jessie and Bluebell’s puppies. His ‘education’ of them in virtual isolation is an excuse to groom their direct loyalty. He is rears a private police force. When the humans attack the farm, Napoleon is absent , either from cowardice or self-preservation, while Snowball defends the farm and is awarded a medal. The medal unfortunately elevates the tension between the two leaders, forcing Napoleon into action.
Napoleon removes the competition: Snowball is chased from Animal Farm by the now-grown dogs. Once Snowball is gone, Napoleon announces a restructuring of the farm’s organization. A committee of pigs, in private and presided over by himself, will make all decisions. Squealer promotes Napoleon’s propaganda, reminding the animals of Napoleon’s ‘true’ concerns for them. The windmill construction proceeds, as Napoleon conceived the idea originally.
Napoleon begins to trade with humans; the pigs move into the farmhouse. When the other animals quote the Seven Commandments, they discover they remember the commandments incorrectly. Napoleon has begun to warp the guidelines of the Commandments to his own needs, a tactic he will repeat. Napoleon never removes a Commandment, he merely modifies them to exempt the pigs growing lack of adherence. When a storm destroys the windmill, Napoleon blames Snowball, thereby unifying the animals against a scapegoat, just as the rebellion had united them against mankind. Napoleon stamps out or subverts many of the rebellions initial ideals by establishing Snowball as a traitor from the beginning and by eliminating the singing of the original rebellion song. Napoleon has Snowball’s sympathizers and co-conspirators, real or imagined, publicly executed. His power over the farm is now absolute, cemented through intimidation and food depravation. Napoleon remains more isolated; the ‘victory’ (or “What victory?” as Boxer asks) over the second human invasion implies that Napoleon’s rule cannot be seen as weak in any form.
Napoleon declares the farm a republic, but like any other despot, there is little doubt as to who is in charge. When Boxer is “retired” to the glue factory, the animals realize the full revolution of the cycle – they have merely replaced men with pigs. Hence the final change of the Commandments to “All Animals Are Equal But Some Animals are More Equal Than Others”. Napoleon has manipulated the rebellion through propaganda, bullied, murdered, or run off any opposition, controls all means of production and supplies and, in the end, becomes the very thing the animals rebelled against initially. Orwell compares the pigs and men at the end of the novel, saying “it was impossible to say which was which.”
Orwell, George. Animal Farm. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc., New York. 1946.