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All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.
~ Napoleon's replacement for the seventh commandment.
Long live Animal Farm!
~ Napoleon's catchphrase.
Napoleon is the main antagonist of George Orwell's 1945 English novel Animal Farm. He is a ruthless Berkshire boar of the Manor Farm who took part in the revolution to kick out the farm's owner Mr. Jones and becomes the tyrannical leader of the Animal Farm after ousting his political rival Snowball, eventually turning the farm into a state no better than it was under Mr. Jones.
After Old Major's death, Napoleon and Snowball assumed control of the animals of Manor Farm and orchestrated a revolution, successfully overthrowing their irresponsible farmer and his "regime."
Napoleon was initially considered a war hero; however, he soon revealed his true colors to all of the other animals, revealing himself as extremely corrupt, traitorous, selfish and greedy, chasing Snowball away in order to declare himself leader of Animal Farm and enacting changes to the administration structure of the farm by replacing communal meetings with a committee of pigs who had the power to pass laws. As he grew more authoritative and powerful, he began employing cruel methods to dispose of animals whom he deemed a threat and adopted tyrannical and undemocratic policies almost identical to those used by the humans, even making hypocritical changes to the sacred Seven Commandments of Animalism which was Animal Farm's core belief system.
Throughout the book, Napoleon constantly made a slanderous statement about Snowball, branding him a traitor who was working for Mr. Jones.
By the end of the book, Napoleon and his fellow pigs (minus Snowball, who ran afoul of Napoleon and was disposed of) and human allies are so iniquitous and corrupt that the other animals can no longer tell the difference between the pigs and the humans.
In the 1954 film and 1999 live adaptation, Napoleon's actions are generally consistent to those of his novel counterpart. He and his fellow pigs (again, minus Snowball) gradually exert complete control over the farm, rewrite all of Old Major's commandments and eventually start wearing human clothes, walking on two legs and drinking. Just like the book, by the end of the adaptations, the other animals could no longer tell the difference between the pigs and the humans. Also in the animated adaptation, Napoleon had his dogs kill Snowball instead of simply chase him off.
Napoleon's fate deviates from the original book, where he survives and in both films he dies. How so varies between the adaptations.
In the 1954 animated film, animal residents from several neighbouring farms rallied to Animal Farm upon learning that Napoleon altered the seventh commandment for his own benefit. After spying on the pig's congress meeting, the now elderly Benjamin reveals Napoleon's plans for further totalitarianism. Enraged at this, the rest of the animals decide that enough is enough. Under Benjamin's leadership, they stage another rebellion and advance upon the house. Napoleon and the rest of the cowardly pigs hear them coming and the villainous boar tries to summon his guards. Unfortunately, through means unspecified, the canines drank excessive amounts of alcohol and are completely wasted. Realising that nobody is coming, Napoleon frantically looks around realising too late that all the escape routes are cut off, and he is surrounded. Alone and helpless, Napoleon and the rest of his cowardly kind, can only watch in horror as the animals they have mistreated and abused smash through every obstacle and bear down on them. The rebels vanguard, led by several angry bulls stampede through the house, trampling/beating all of the pigs to death in their dining hall. The film ends with a frontal view of Benjamin vindictively surveying the scene.
In the 1999 live-action version of the book, Jessie the dog managed to save some of the animals from Napoleon's evil schemes. Those that remained had to endure years of hardship under the cruel boar's rule, despite his proclamations that they were now free. Eventually, several years after Napoleon took over, the water towers collapsed during a bad storm. Napoleon and many of his loyalists perished in the resulting destruction. Jessie and the other escapees returned to find the farm in ruin, a far cry from Old Major's dream, a victim of Napoleon's madness. Another family of humans later purchased the farm, with Jessie vowing to make sure that they never made the same mistakes as Napoleon.
Napoleon is described as a mature stud boar, although he was the runt of his litter and had to fight for food growing up in order to become big and strong, contributing to his socially Darwinistic view of the world and of his place in it. During his reign over the farm, he becomes quite overweight due to his excessive eating and alcoholism. In the animated film, he is depicted as bipedal, sneering, imperious, autocratic, and authoritative, wearing dark, double-breasted suits. In the adaptations, he is depicted with black and white fur.
Napoleon is a cruel, oppressive, hypocritical, deceptive and tyrannical dictator defined by his unquenchable thirst for power. Napoleon is a remorseless and possibly psychopathic sadist who abuses his power as soon he obtains it and is only concerned with furthering his own selfish goals rather than benefiting Animal Farm. He is also extremely manipulative and charismatic, so he is able to inspire the other animals to turn against Snowball's vision of the peaceful Animal Farm, although it could be argued that Snowball had visions of a dictatorial government himself.
Although he initially presents a facade of self-effacing modesty, describing himself as "a practical pig of few words" who would "work hard and say little", Napoleon predominantly uses words to manipulate others, and is a supercilious and narcissistic elitist, ordering many poems and songs be written about himself, singing his praises as the savior and leader of Animal Farm and insisting that it reverts to its original name of Manor Farm after he had established himself as its dictator and succeeded in rallying the other farmers to his cause. He is also a hedonistic and parsimonious alcoholic who sired many illegitimate piglets. Whilst obviously intelligent, knowledgeable and self-confident, Napoleon rarely contributes any ideas of his own, preferring to discredit the ideas of his opponents and then claim those ideas as his own once he had driven out his rivals.
Napoleon is also extremely opprobrious, vituperative, persuasive, deceitful and bitter, having had to fight his way to power through cruelty and cunning as a result of being the smallest of his litter of pigs. He sees the world as a socially Darwinistic place where the ends always justified the means.
He is based off the real-life Soviet revolutionary and dictator Joseph Stalin. Napoleon arguably represents Communist Russia (maybe even the idea of government corruption) as a whole, while Snowball represented the Provisional Government that was overthrown in the October Revolution (or maybe any benevolent government that is replaced by a less benevolent one), or Stalin's early ideological rival named Leon Trotsky. Old Major represented the principles of Marxism (or any political ideology).
In the French version of the story, Napoleon is called "Caesar" instead. This is because French laws forbid a pig to be named after the late statesman Napoleon Bonaparte.