The Role of Old Major and Significance of his Speech in Animal Farm
Old Major is a character in the book Animal Farm. He was an award winning elderly and well-respected Middle White boar. He was twelve years of age, and had 400 piglets. He had given inspiration to the other pigs about the fair rules on the farm once the farmers were gone. Old Major is based on Marx and Lenin of the Russian Revolution, whose ideas changed into Communism.
One evening, Old Major said that he had a dream the night before. Because of the dream, a meeting was to be held in the big barn at night. At the meeting, he talked with the other animals about the cause of their suffering, Man. He gave them the way to end their problem, rebellion. Later, he told the farm animals about his dream. In the dream he saw the Earth after Man was no longer on it. He also remembered a song sung by the animals of old, "Beasts of England", which the animals learned very fast. The words of the song that Old Major remembered formed the basis of the rebellion that he raised against Farmer Jones. The song describes a utopia where all the animals will enjoy complete freedom and a prosperous life, but this utopia can be achieved only after a struggle. He predicted his own death and blamed man for their problems. He set forth several rules the animals must follow so as not to ever resemble man. He proposed, as a fundamental principle, that all animals are equal. Old Major died in his sleep.
Old Major's initial idea was for all the animals to rule and live freely. But after his death the pigs developed on the idea that they should become the ruling party, despite the conditions laid out by Old Major.
George Orwell uses Old Major and the other animals in "Animal Farm" to represent the ideas of Karl Marx and the Bolshevik Party. The revolutionary ideas of Karl Marx are the same as the opinions that Old Major had about a revolution in "Animal Farm." The speech that Old Major gave in the barn to the other animals parallels Marx’s philosophy on a perfect communist and socialistic society. Old Major’s speech influenced the pigs, especially Napoleon, to begin to prepare for a revolution in the way Marx’s philosophy influenced Lenin and Stalin to begin the Bolshevik Party. The ways which Napoleon used Old Major’s ideas are similar to the ways Stalin used Marx’s ideas. Both Napoleon and Stalin distorted the philosophies for their own use. The final results of Old Major’s and Marx’s ideas are very extreme and distorted instances of what they envisioned to be a perfect society.