Character Analysis of Old Major in Animal Farm

Old Major: Symbolism, Rhetoric, and Flaws

Old Major as a Symbolic Figure

In George Orwell's "Animal Farm," Old Major represents influential figures in the Russian Revolution, symbolizing Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin. He embodies their economic and political ideologies, advocating for equal sharing of labor and resources in an ideal society.

Similar to Lenin, Old Major inspires the animals on the farm, sowing the seeds of rebellion and directing them toward a revolution. His role mirrors Lenin's visionary approach for the freedom of the working class in the Soviet Union. Both envision a society where all animals live in comfort and dignity, free from the oppression of humans.

Old Major's Rhetorical Skills: "Beasts of England"

Old Major possesses remarkable rhetorical skills, effectively using logical arguments and persuasive techniques to inspire the animals. In his speech, he systematically enumerates the wrongs committed by humans, fueling the animals' desire for change.

His words resonate with the animals, as he repeatedly refers to them as comrades, fostering a sense of unity and shared purpose. He introduces the song "Beasts of England," which becomes an anthem of the revolution, further strengthening their resolve.

Old Major's Flaw

Despite his leadership role, Old Major is not without flaws. His visionary plan places the entire blame on humans for the animals' suffering, overlooking the potential for power struggles among the animals themselves.

He fails to recognize the inherent desire for power in all living beings, including the animals on the farm. Old Major's unidirectional approach ignores this flaw and assumes that removing humans from the equation will solve all their problems.

Fall of the Revolution

Old Major serves as the catalyst for the rebellion but does not witness its completion. Following his death, a power struggle ensues between Snowball and Napoleon, representing Leon Trotsky and Joseph Stalin, respectively.

The ideals that Old Major introduced are forgotten as Napoleon seizes control, betraying the principles of the revolution. The hunger for power ultimately leads to the downfall of the revolution, with the animals resembling their former human oppressors.

The Symbolism of Old Major

Old Major, the oldest pig on the farm, holds great symbolic significance in "Animal Farm." He represents the intellectual and ideological foundations of the revolution. As an allegorical figure, Old Major embodies the ideas and principles of Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin, who sought to bring about a more egalitarian and just society.

Old Major's role as a wise and influential leader mirrors that of Karl Marx, who laid the groundwork for communism through his writings and theories. Similarly, Old Major's speech to the animals serves as a parallel to Marx's Communist Manifesto, where he exposes the injustices and exploitation under the capitalist system and proposes a vision for a classless society.

Furthermore, Old Major's dream of a utopian society where all animals are equal and free from human oppression reflects Lenin's ideals of a socialist state that prioritizes the well-being of the working class. Old Major's vision aligns with Lenin's aspirations for a fair and just society, where the means of production are collectively owned and controlled by the people.

Rhetorical Skills and Influence

Old Major's persuasive and rhetorical skills are instrumental in inspiring the animals to rebel against their human masters. His powerful speech exposes the harsh realities of their lives under human rule and highlights the potential for a better future through revolution. Through logical arguments and emotional appeals, Old Major manages to convince the animals of their shared oppression and the necessity for change.

One of Old Major's most effective rhetorical techniques is his use of repetition and inclusive language. By repeatedly referring to the animals as "comrades," he creates a sense of unity and solidarity among them, fostering a collective identity that fuels their desire for liberation.

Old Major's influence extends beyond his speech. The song "Beasts of England" that he introduces becomes an anthem of the revolution, uniting the animals and instilling in them a sense of hope and determination. His ability to inspire and mobilize the animals demonstrates his charismatic leadership and the power of his ideas.

The Flaws and Downfall of Old Major

Despite his visionary ideas and persuasive skills, Old Major is not without flaws. His unidirectional approach of blaming humans entirely for the animals' suffering oversimplifies the complexities of power dynamics. By absolving the animals of any responsibility, he fails to recognize the potential for internal corruption and the dangers of unchecked authority.

Old Major's death before the revolution unfolds also highlights his limitations as a leader. While he plants the seeds of rebellion and inspires the animals, he is unable to guide them through the challenges and complexities of creating a new society. His absence paves the way for power struggles and the rise of new leaders who manipulate the revolution for their own gain.

The Legacy and Lessons of Old Major

Old Major's legacy lives on in the hearts and minds of the animals, serving as a reminder of their initial aspirations for freedom and equality. His character symbolizes the importance of ideological foundations and the need for a clear vision in revolutionary movements.

The animals learn valuable lessons from Old Major's flaws, recognizing the dangers of blindly following charismatic leaders and the importance of maintaining a vigilant and critical stance. They come to understand that true liberation requires not only the removal of external oppressors but also the establishment of a just and accountable system that guards against the concentration of power.

Through Old Major, George Orwell explores the complexities and challenges of revolutionary movements and offers a cautionary tale about the potential pitfalls of idealism and the allure of power. Old Major's character serves as a reminder to continually question authority and to strive for a society built on principles of justice, equality, and shared responsibility.

In conclusion, Old Major's influence on the animals' rebellion is significant, but his vision is overshadowed by subsequent power struggles and the animals' failure to uphold the principles he advocated for.

Legacy and Lessons Learned

Despite the fall of the revolution and the betrayal of Old Major's ideals, his legacy lives on in the hearts and minds of the animals. The memory of his impassioned speech and his dream of a better society serves as a reminder of the initial goals and aspirations of the revolution.

The animals learn valuable lessons from Old Major's flaws as well. They come to understand that a simplistic view of the world, placing blame solely on external forces, can lead to the rise of new oppressors within their own ranks.

Old Major's shortcomings highlight the importance of critical thinking and vigilance in any revolutionary movement. It becomes clear that achieving true freedom and equality requires not only the removal of external oppressors but also the establishment of a just and inclusive system that guards against the corruption of power.

Through Old Major's character, George Orwell underscores the complexities and challenges of revolutionary movements. While idealism and righteous anger can ignite change, the path to a fair and equitable society is fraught with obstacles and the potential for the abuse of power.


Old Major, as an aged and influential pig, symbolizes Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin in "Animal Farm." His rhetorical skills and impassioned speech inspire the animals to rebel against human oppression. However, his unidirectional approach and failure to account for the hunger for power among the animals contribute to the downfall of the revolution.

Despite his flaws, Old Major's legacy serves as a reminder of the initial ideals and goals of the revolution. The animals learn important lessons about the complexities of revolutionary movements and the need for vigilance in safeguarding their newfound freedom.

George Orwell's portrayal of Old Major emphasizes the challenges and pitfalls inherent in striving for a just society. It serves as a cautionary tale, urging readers to critically examine the dynamics of power and the potential for corruption, even within movements aimed at liberation.

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