Napoleon’s dictator style is further shown in his relationship with Snowball. After the rebellion Snowball and Napoleon take charge of the meetings. “Snowball and Napoleon were by far the most active in the debates.” (p19) They seem to find it impossible to agree with each other and this conflict develops into a major power struggle.
One way Napoleon tries to establish himself as the stronger power is by adopting tactics of indoctrination. “He (Napoleon) said that the education of the young was more important than anything.” (p22) Napoleon never takes any interest in the committees running the farm but only ever puts effort into educating the young and teaching them his own way of thinking. This technique becomes significant later when it is evident that the young animals he was teaching form the basis of his secret police. This is a complete contrast to Snowball who wishes to empower the animals through a more philosophical approach by educating them in Animalism.
Napoleon’s “secret police” are particularly significant when the conflict between him and Snowball comes to a climax. “He (Snowball) put on an extra spurt and … slipped through a hole in the hedge… At first no one had been able to imagine where these creatures came from … they were the puppies whom Napoleon had taken away from their mothers.” It is during the battle over the construction of the windmill that Napoleon uses the dogs in a violent and forceful way in order to expel Snowball. These bullying measures are the kind of behaviour that would be expected from the dictator who needs to have sole control and will not tolerate any challenge to his power. Many dictator regimes do have a secret police such as is represented by the dogs.
Napoleon tightens his power further, again, through the use of the dogs. “When they had finished their confession the dogs promptly tore their throats out” (p56) Napoleon uses the dogs to kill several animals which have supposedly committed crimes involving the escape of the traitor Squealer. This then scares the rest of the animals into sub ordinance and assures his place in sole power.
Once in sole power Napoleon continues to reveal his selfishness and cruelty to the animals. He increases the workload to include a Sunday afternoon, “This work was strictly voluntary, but any animal who absented himself from it would have his rations reduced by half.” (p40) This is ironic because if something is voluntary it is done freely and without pressure but here the animals are being persuaded to do extra work because otherwise they will have their rations reduced. The work is not voluntary but mandatory as Orwell is obviously implying the consequences for any animal not working would ultimately be starvation. Through his use of heavy irony Orwell shows the way in which Napoleon wants to increase his power more and more.
Orwell’s irony underpins the whole satire of the text. Orwell often uses militaristic language and exaggeration to reveal human flaws. One particular episode where this is evident is “After the hoisting of the flag when the animals were required to file past the skull in a reverent manner” (p38) They were to “solute the flag, sing ‘Beasts of England’ and receive their orders for the week.”(p36) The ludicrous picture this gives is a deliberate attempt by Orwell to expose Napoleon’s evil which is masquerading as disciplined military power.
As Napoleon’s power increases he starts to change the “Principles of Animalism” so as to make his own life more comfortable. Commandment Four for example is changed so that the pigs can sleep in beds. “ No animal shall sleep in a bed with sheets” (p45) Similarly the other commandments are gradually changed to suit Napoleon’s personal desires. The fifth commandment becomes “No animal shall drink alcohol to excess.” (p73) This is in order that Napoleon can indulge his alcohol habit. Squealer’s role here is essential. Squealer ensures that Napoleon succeeds in getting away with changing the principles by persuading the other animals that what is happening is just and according to the original manifesto. Squealer is the source of propaganda which is an essential feature of any dictatorship. It is because Squealer acts as the front man and manipulates the minds of the animals that Napoleon is able to maintain his power. The ultimate transformation of the commandments is when the seventh commandment becomes “All are equal but some animals are more equal than others” (p90) This is very ironic as being equal means being the same and therefore no one can be “more equal“. This statement is a total contradiction in terms. “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.” (p95) The reader understands the lie that Napoleon is telling but the animals do not comprehend the deception until they observe him interacting with the humans and they can no longer tell which of them is man and which is pig.
Not only is it by his outlook on life and by his actions that Napoleon reveals himself as a dictator but it is also in the way that he treats his fellow creatures. For example the way Napoleon used Snowball for his own ends. He became the ‘scapegoat’ who was blamed for anything that went wrong. “Do you know the enemy who has come and overthrown our windmill? SNOWBALL!” (p47) He uses Snowball to take blame away from his poor leadership.
In the same way his treatment of Boxer is appalling. He pretends to send Boxer to the vet but “some of the animals had noticed that the van which took Boxer away was marked ‘Horse Slaughterer’” (p83) Boxer had been the most faithful, loyal and hardworking animal yet Napoleon treats him cruelly and with contempt. The fate of Boxer symbolises the fate of all the animals as when they are no longer useful they will be killed.
The mentality of most animals on the farm is very similar to that of Boxer. “I will work harder” and “Napoleon is always right” (p49/41) These mottos of Boxer show his loyalty and commitment to Napoleon. Boxer represents the uneducated workers during Stalin’s reign. These workers, like Boxer and the other animals on the farm, were exploited in the same way Boxer is because they want to believe in their leader and do not have the sense to question the authority of their totalitarian leader. Napoleon’s evil is made to seem even more despicable as it is set against the simple trust of these naive animals.
In conclusion it would seem that Napoleon is “a classic example of a modern day dictator corrupted by absolute power”. By the end of the novel the reader has no sympathy whatsoever for his corrupt techniques. Although Napoleon was written to represent Stalin, the communist leader of Russia, he could also represent any modern day tyrant, even those that have emerged after the book was written. The behaviour of Napoleon and the other pigs is easily comparable to that of other totalitarian leaders, such as Idi Amin and Saddam Hussein.