Animal Farm

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Napoleon Character Analysis

A pig. One of Old Major's main disciples. A "fierce-looking Berkshire boar," Napoleon prizes power over ideas, unlike Snowball, Old Major's other main disciple. Napoleon is cowardly, shrewd, calculating, and selfish. While he fully supports the revolution against Mr. Jones, he cares more about his own power than he does about the ideals of the revolution. His selfishness leads him to build a totalitarian government based on terror and lies that gives him more power over the other animals than Mr. Jones ever had. Napoleon symbolizes Stalin, who led the Soviet Union from 1930 until his death in 1953.

Napoleon Quotes in Animal Farm

The Animal Farm quotes below are all either spoken by Napoleon or refer to Napoleon. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Totalitarianism Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Signet Classics edition of Animal Farm published in 1996.
Chapter 5 Quotes
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?
Related Characters: Squealer (speaker), Napoleon
Page Number: 55
Explanation and Analysis:

Squealer offers these comments to shore up Napoleon’s recent tyrannical actions against Snowball. He claims that power should be concentrated in the hands of fewer animals because others will inevitably make wrong decisions.

Once more, Squealer uses clever rhetorical tactics to convince the other less intelligent animals to give up their freedoms and rights. He first reiterates the central tenet of Animalism—“that all animals are equal”—which makes it seem that the later comments will not violate the principle, even if that is precisely what they do. His further comments rest on this idea that democratically-chosen decisions may not, indeed, be preferable for the other animals and that they should therefore cede their rights to the supposedly smarter animals. The phrase “be only too happy” casts Napoleon as falsely willing to acquiesce, while the taunting rhetorical question “where should we be?” goads the audience. Orwell thus emphasizes the essential role of propaganda in maintaining control of a populace.

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Napoleon is always right.
Related Characters: Boxer (speaker), Napoleon
Page Number: 56
Explanation and Analysis:

Boxer makes this characteristically terse comment after listening to Squealer’s defense of Napoleon. Instead of responding to the specific terms, however, he offers his universal adherence to the leader.

This line reiterates Boxer’s role as a committed adherent to the political regime on the Animal Farm. He continues to deal in the absolute of “always right” even after evidence has been presented that would contradict that firm belief. Unable to take into account how Napoleon’s military tactics conflict with his own anti-violent system of ethics, Boxer blindly reaffirms his belief in the leader of-the-moment. He thus symbolizes the unquestioning supporter of a totalitarian governmental system, one who is persuaded by propaganda and will believe in the system despite indications that it is no longer effective.

Chapter 6 Quotes
Comrades, do you know who is responsible for this? Do you know the enemy who has come in the night and overthrown our windmill? SNOWBALL!
Related Characters: Napoleon (speaker), Snowball
Related Symbols: The Windmill
Page Number: 69-70
Explanation and Analysis:

After the half-finished windmill is destroyed by a storm, Napoleon investigates the rubble. He suddenly concludes, here, that Snowball destroyed it in an act of political subterfuge.

By blaming Snowball, Napoleon is able to protect his own reputation and motivate the animals to work ever-harder at rebuilding the windmill. Whereas his authority could have potentially been challenged for having recommended bad practices, attributing the destruction to Snowball renders himself both immune to criticism and necessary for the future defense of his followers. Napoleon can use the shadowy figure of "Snowball" to effectively instill fear into the animal populace.

This tactic notably parallels the way the animals motivated their revolution in the first place: by blaming a single enemy, the humans, for all their hardships. Orwell thus points out how any given political regime will gather support by selecting such an adversary—whether it be false or accurate—and organizing popular support against that foe. Developing a culture of fear around an unseen enemy allows a group to justify its tactics and explain away any negative events as the result of those enemies’ actions.

Chapter 10 Quotes
Somehow it seemed as though the farm had grown richer without making the animals themselves any richer— except, of course, for the pigs and the dogs.
Related Characters: Napoleon, Squealer, Minimus, The Dogs
Page Number: 129
Explanation and Analysis:

The text has now jumped several years into the future, and the narrator observes how the relative wealth of the farm is spread unevenly among the animals.

Introducing the phrase with the term “somehow” speaks to the incredulity and naïveté of the animals. Despite having witnessed the pigs’ actions for many years, they remain unable to see exactly why wealth is being unfairly sequestered in their hands. Yet the “of course” stresses how this process is logical considering the story thus far, and how it is at least understood on some level by the animals. Orwell thus points out how the populace in such a fascist regime oscillates between recognition of and blindness to what is taking place. In particular, as time has gone by and few of the animals can recall a different form of society, the current political regime becomes normalized, and inequality fades into the “of course” of a natural order.

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."
Related Characters: Napoleon, Squealer, Minimus, Mr. Pilkington
Page Number: 141
Explanation and Analysis:

In the text’s closing passage, the pigs are seen playing cards with men. When they squabble over cheating, the narrator reflects how the two are essentially indistinguishable.

These lines confirm the way the pigs have slowly come to mimic the oppressors they overthrew in the beginning of the book. Whereas before, the animals seemed unaware of this parallel, here they finally see it manifested before them. That the pigs and men are playing poker is no symbolic accident: it stresses their selfish behavior and the way they play fast and loose with resources in a way that harms normal citizens and animals. They become, thus, representations of world leaders casually throwing around wealth and lives stolen from others. It is notable, too, that this reflection is caused by the pigs and humans fighting over cheating: what makes the pigs finally akin to humans is not their liaisons or trade deals, nor the way they consume alcohol or sleep in beds, but rather the way they persist in deceiving each other even when they have no need. Orwell implies that the fundamental character of leader-regimes like that of the USSR is a pervasive and unending greed, even once one has acquired a position of wealth and power.

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Napoleon Character Timeline in Animal Farm

The timeline below shows where the character Napoleon appears in Animal Farm. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2
Revolution and Corruption Theme Icon
Language as Power Theme Icon
The Soviet Union Theme Icon
...three months two pigs in particular emerge as leaders: the lively Snowball and the powerful Napoleon. A third pig, Squealer, gives eloquent speeches that can convince anyone of anything. These three... (full context)
Revolution and Corruption Theme Icon
The Soviet Union Theme Icon
...the pigs figure out how to milk the cows, and produce five pails of milk. Napoleon then shouts that they must get to the harvest, that Comrade Snowball will lead them... (full context)
Chapter 3
Revolution and Corruption Theme Icon
Class Warfare Theme Icon
The Soviet Union Theme Icon
...forward resolutions and vote, but only the pigs ever come up with resolutions. Snowball and Napoleon are the most active debaters, but they almost never agree. (full context)
Revolution and Corruption Theme Icon
Napoleon sees little value in Snowball's committees, but he says he believes in the importance of... (full context)
Chapter 4
Revolution and Corruption Theme Icon
The Soviet Union Theme Icon
It's late summer and news of the revolution at Animal Farm spreads. Snowball and Napoleon send out flights of pigeons to teach "Beasts of England" to the animals of nearby... (full context)
Chapter 5
The Soviet Union Theme Icon
In the Sunday meetings, Snowball and Napoleon now argue about everything. The most intense point of disagreement between the two is Snowball's... (full context)
Totalitarianism Theme Icon
The animals take sides: some support Snowball's windmill, while others favor Napoleon and food production. Only Benjamin refuses to join sides, observing that no matter who wins,... (full context)
Revolution and Corruption Theme Icon
Language as Power Theme Icon
...animals gather to vote. Snowball speaks passionately about the paradise the windmill will create, while Napoleon just says the windmill is nonsense. Snowball's eloquence prevails. (full context)
Totalitarianism Theme Icon
Revolution and Corruption Theme Icon
Class Warfare Theme Icon
The Soviet Union Theme Icon
Just as Snowball finishes speaking, Napoleon makes an odd whimpering sound. Suddenly nine vicious dogs, the dogs Napoleon had reared from... (full context)
Revolution and Corruption Theme Icon
Class Warfare Theme Icon
The Soviet Union Theme Icon
Napoleon's announcement disturbs the animals, but few can muster any counterarguments. Four young pigs protest, but... (full context)
Totalitarianism Theme Icon
Revolution and Corruption Theme Icon
Class Warfare Theme Icon
The Soviet Union Theme Icon
Later, Squealer comes around and explains that Napoleon took on the "burden" of leadership and eliminated voting only because he feared that the... (full context)
Language as Power Theme Icon
None of the animals wants Jones back, and Boxer, after heavy thinking, says, "If Comrade Napoleon says it, it must be right." (full context)
Totalitarianism Theme Icon
Revolution and Corruption Theme Icon
Class Warfare Theme Icon
Language as Power Theme Icon
The Soviet Union Theme Icon
Three weeks later, Napoleon announces that they'll build the windmill after all. Squealer explains: Napoleon opposed the windmill just... (full context)
Chapter 6
Totalitarianism Theme Icon
Language as Power Theme Icon
The farm suffers shortages of items it can't produce itself, like nails and iron. Napoleon announces Animal Farm will start trading hay, wheat, and possibly even eggs with its neighbors,... (full context)
Totalitarianism Theme Icon
Revolution and Corruption Theme Icon
Class Warfare Theme Icon
Language as Power Theme Icon
Squealer begins to refer to Napoleon as "The Leader" and the pigs move into the farmhouse and begin sleeping in beds.... (full context)
Totalitarianism Theme Icon
Language as Power Theme Icon
The Soviet Union Theme Icon
One night in November, a terrible storm knocks down the windmill. The animals are horrified. Napoleon sniffs around the rubble. He looks worried and his tail wiggles as if he's thinking... (full context)
Chapter 7
Totalitarianism Theme Icon
Revolution and Corruption Theme Icon
Class Warfare Theme Icon
Language as Power Theme Icon
The Soviet Union Theme Icon
Napoleon now issues almost all orders through Squealer, who one day announces that the hens must... (full context)
The Soviet Union Theme Icon
At about the same time, Napoleon enters negotiations to sell some wood to either Pilkington or Frederick. Whenever he's close to... (full context)
Totalitarianism Theme Icon
Revolution and Corruption Theme Icon
Language as Power Theme Icon
In addition, Squealer soon announces that Snowball has been sneaking onto Animal Farm at night: Napoleon can smell him. Squealer tells the animals that Snowball was Jones's "secret agent" from the... (full context)
Totalitarianism Theme Icon
Language as Power Theme Icon
...was loyal at the beginning, even if he later turned traitor. When Squealer responds that Napoleon himself has stated that Snowball was a traitor from the beginning, Boxer changes his mind... (full context)
Totalitarianism Theme Icon
Revolution and Corruption Theme Icon
Language as Power Theme Icon
The Soviet Union Theme Icon
Four days later, Napoleon calls for an assembly in the yard. When the animals gather, Napoleon whimpers and his... (full context)
Chapter 8
Totalitarianism Theme Icon
Revolution and Corruption Theme Icon
Language as Power Theme Icon
The Soviet Union Theme Icon
Napoleon almost never appears in public anymore, and when he does only with great ceremony. Minimus... (full context)
Totalitarianism Theme Icon
Language as Power Theme Icon
The Soviet Union Theme Icon
Meanwhile, Napoleon's negotiations with Frederick and Pilkington for the wood intensify. Napoleon wavers back and forth between... (full context)
Totalitarianism Theme Icon
Language as Power Theme Icon
The Soviet Union Theme Icon
...autumn. But Animal Farm still lacks the machinery to produce electricity, and two days later Napoleon announces a deal to sell the wood to Frederick. (His mantra is changed to "Death... (full context)
The Soviet Union Theme Icon
Three days later, Whymper rushes into the farmhouse. The animals hear Napoleon let out a roar of anger. As it turned out, Frederick paid for the timber... (full context)
Totalitarianism Theme Icon
Revolution and Corruption Theme Icon
...next morning the house is silent. When Squealer eventually appears he has awful news: Comrade Napoleon is dying! By evening Napoleon has recovered, and the pigs soon purchase machinery to build... (full context)
Chapter 9
Totalitarianism Theme Icon
Class Warfare Theme Icon
...sows give birth to over thirty young pigs. From the piglet's markings, it's clear they're Napoleon's children. He discourages the piglets from playing with the other young animals, and teaches them... (full context)
Totalitarianism Theme Icon
Language as Power Theme Icon
In April, the farm is declared a Republic, and an election takes place. Napoleon, the only candidate, wins unanimously. On the same day, it's announced that Snowball fought openly... (full context)
Totalitarianism Theme Icon
Revolution and Corruption Theme Icon
Class Warfare Theme Icon
Language as Power Theme Icon
...windmill, Boxer's lung fails and he falls, no longer able to work. Squealer announces that Napoleon has decided to send Boxer to a human veterinary doctor. The idea of a human... (full context)
Totalitarianism Theme Icon
Revolution and Corruption Theme Icon
Class Warfare Theme Icon
...later, Squealer announces that Boxer died in the hospital, and that his last words were "Napoleon is always right." In response to the "dark rumors" the animals had heard about the... (full context)
Chapter 10
Totalitarianism Theme Icon
Revolution and Corruption Theme Icon
Class Warfare Theme Icon
...on two legs! All the pigs then walk out of the farmhouse on two legs. Napoleon appears last, carrying a whip. (full context)
Totalitarianism Theme Icon
Revolution and Corruption Theme Icon
Class Warfare Theme Icon
...by Clover, sneak up and watch the pigs and humans through the window. Pilkington and Napoleon toast each other. Pilkington says he's pleased to have their history of mistrust behind them.... (full context)
Totalitarianism Theme Icon
Language as Power Theme Icon
Napoleon agrees wholeheartedly with Pilkington, and announces plans to eliminate all signs of Animal Farm's revolutionary... (full context)
Totalitarianism Theme Icon
Revolution and Corruption Theme Icon
Class Warfare Theme Icon
...poker and the farm animals turn to leave, but a shout from within stops them. Napoleon and Pilkington have discovered each other cheating at cards. A fight has broken out. In... (full context)