Posted in Animal Farm

Animal Farm: An Analysis of Old Major’s Speech

Old Major’s speech in Chapter One is what sows the seeds of rebellion in the animals’ minds. With that in mind, it’s worth having a closer look at what Old Major says and, more importantly, how he says it.

Old Major Hands Up

Let’s take a look at some of the key quotes from Old Major and some of the persuasive techniques he uses to convince the animals that a rebellion is not only necessary but is also imminent.

I have had a long life, I have had much time for thought as I lay alone in my stall, and I think I may say that I understand the nature of life on this earth as well as any animal now living. It is about this that I wish to speak to you.

In this quote, Old Major is suggested that his long life (and life experience) has imbued him with some wisdom and knowledge that the other animals do not have. This not only makes the animals sit up and pay attention; it also makes it difficult for them to disbelieve him.

Now, comrades, what is the nature of this life of ours? Let us face it: our lives are miserable, laborious, and short.

The use of the word “comrades” is important here because it implies a unity among the animals; this idea of “we’re all in to together.”  Notice also that he uses a rhetorical question, the point of which is to not to get an answer but to offer his own opinion. His answer is short and to the point, too, and uses emotive words.

It is summed up in a single word–Man. Man is the only real enemy we have. Remove Man from the scene, and the root cause of hunger and overwork is abolished for ever.

By repeating the word “man,” Old Major hammers home his point that humans are to blame for the animals’ poor quality of life. (He uses the word “man” three times just in this one quote!) Old Major also uses hyperbole (deliberate exaggeration) here. He says that if man is removed, then the animals will never be overworked or hungry again. This is a pretty big statement to make considering that there are lots of reasons why an animal might go hungry or be overworked. Maybe there’s a lack of available food, extra jobs to do, the list is endless …

And even the miserable lives we lead are not allowed to reach their natural span.

There’s some irony here: Old Major says that no animal is allowed to reach their natural span. Hang on a minute, hasn’t Old Major lived to his full, natural lifespan?!

All men are enemies. All animals are comrades.

Old Major finishes with another short and sweet statement. He makes it seem so simple – every man is bad, and every animal is good. The only problem is that all animals aren’t really comrades at all. Just look at how much the animals dislike Moses.

After being bombarded by these persuasive techniques, it is no wonder that the animals are fired up and ready to rebel.

Like this post? Check out more Animal Farm posts here.





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