Old Major's Quotes from Animal Farm

Instructor: Liz Breazeale
Old Major is among the most important characters in George Orwell's novella, ''Animal Farm.'' In this lesson, we'll explore the significance of some of his most important statements, and, afterward, you'll be able to test your understanding with a quiz.

Understanding Old Major

Old Major is a pig, first and foremost, and a vital character in George Orwell's novella, Animal Farm. Old Major serves as the catalyst for the uprising of the animals against their farmer, Mr. Jones, who is collectively despised. Old Major is the oldest, wisest pig on the farm, and has a lot to say on the topic of revolution and the overthrowing of humans. He's well-liked and extremely respected by all the other animals for his intelligence. In short, Old Major's the big pig on campus.

Interestingly, Old Major's show name is Willingdon Beauty, but what kind of name is that for an old revolutionist to go by? As established, Old Major incites the animals toward rebellion: the novella begins with him talking about a strange dream he had, one in which animals ruled England and everything was fine and lovely. What kind of farm animal wouldn't want to live there? He introduces the animals to a revolutionary anthem called 'Beasts of England,' too. Ultimately, though, Old Major dies only a few pages into the story, but his legacy lives on. Witness for yourself the importance of his words and wisdom!

Old Major is an old, philosophizing pig.
Old Major

Old Major Speaks On Humans

Again, Old Major isn't around for very long, but he still makes his opinions clear on certain matters. Take, for example, his view on humans: 'Is it not crystal clear, comrades, that all the evils of this life of ours spring from the tyranny of human beings?' Yikes. That's pretty harsh, don't you think? But what better way to incite a revolt against the humans than to get the animals riled up at the thought of all the injustices they continually suffer? It seems as though they've never even considered these inequalities until Old Major makes them apparent. Again, Old Major voices his concerns: 'Man serves the interests of no creature except himself.' Think about that the next time you won't let your dog roll all over that dead squirrel.

Old Major also says something that foreshadows, or hints at, an event that manifests itself at the end of the novel. 'And remember also that in fighting against Man, we must not come to resemble him,' he warns. 'All the habits of Man are evil.' Old Major is basically saying, 'We need to overthrow these guys, because they're selfish and terrible... but just be careful, okay?' He really, really wants the animals to give themselves a better situation, but he's also not naive. Old Major knows power corrupts, and he seems to be definitely hinting at the fate of the ruling pigs later in the novella, as they ultimately become indistinguishable from the humans they have overthrown.

Old Major Incites Revolution

Old Major energizes and inspires the animals during his speech. He speaks at length about the necessity of giving animals everywhere a better life by overthrowing humans. In short, Old Major wants a revolution. He goes so far as to cite the everyday injustices of Man, highlighting that humans claim the resources produced by the sweat of the animals. 'This single farm of ours would support a dozen horses, twenty cows, hundreds of sheep -- and all of them living in a comfort and a dignity that are now almost beyond our imagining. Why then do we continue in this miserable condition?' When he puts it that way, can you really argue with him?

Old Major goes on to cite injustice after injustice, cruelty after cruelty, like the taking of calves from their mothers, the stealing of eggs for food, and, the final injustice, the way in which animals are killed at the end of their working lives once they have been rendered useless. Again, when he puts it that way, it sounds pretty reasonable for the animals to resist. Old Major then goes on to strike the big blow: 'All men are enemies. All animals are comrades.' In saying this, Old Major draws the animals together in a common goal, gives them a common enemy, someone to fight against. They're now truly ready to go.

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