In Animal Farm, what commandments does Old Major give to the animals? How might each be considered a vice?

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In the first chapter of the novella, the animals assemble in the barn and listen to old Major elaborate on his dream of living on a farm ruled by animals, who are free from human tyranny and live among each other in harmony. Old Major then warns them about interacting...

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In the first chapter of the novella, the animals assemble in the barn and listen to old Major elaborate on his dream of living on a farm ruled by animals, who are free from human tyranny and live among each other in harmony. Old Major then warns them about interacting with humans and adopting their behaviors and habits. After old Major passes away, the pigs develop a system of thought known as Animalism and adopt his principles to create the Seven Commandments. The following are the Seven Commandments:

1. Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy.
2. Whatever goes upon four legs, or has wings, is a friend.
3. No animal shall wear clothes.
4. No animal shall sleep in a bed.
5. No animal shall drink alcohol.
6. No animal shall kill any other animal.
7. All animals are equal.

The first two commandments warn about interacting with humans, who are nefarious, selfish, and tyrannical, which is why it is considered a vice to walk on two legs. Wearing clothes can be considered a vice because focusing on one's appearance distracts from necessary tasks that enable the farm to thrive and function efficiently. Attire and appearance are also counterintuitive to establishing a completely equal society, where everybody is viewed and treated the same.

Sleeping in beds could be considered a vice because it creates distance among the animals and is viewed as a privilege. There are not enough beds for every animal, which means that some animals will be forced to sleep outside or in the barn. This could potentially threaten the social stability of the farm and become a serious issue.

Drinking alcohol is considered a vice that would impair the animals' decision-making abilities and cause conflict among them. Killing animals is also counterintuitive to cultivating a peaceful, egalitarian society and creates a hysterical, dangerous environment.

All animals being treated equally could not be considered a vice and is an admirable aim of the farm.

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A vice is defined as morally depraved behavior, and the seven commandments issued by the pigs are as follows:


1. Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy.
2. Whatever goes upon four legs, or has wings, is a friend.
3. No animal shall wear clothes.
4. No animal shall sleep in a bed.
5. No animal shall drink alcohol.
6. No animal shall kill any other animal.
7. All animals are equal.

The first commandment is simple: it refers to humans and the fact that they are inherent enemies to the success of Animal Farm. Associating with or obeying a human would be seen as morally depraved by the pigs.

The second commandment is linked to this, and speaks about the superiority of animals and birds in the new regime. The age-old idea of humans being superior to all other creatures is now a vice.

The third commandment is based on the fact that it was humans who decided that the wearing of clothes was “proper”. As part of the total rebellion against humans, animals were not to wear clothes. In addition, making, washing and caring for clothes would take up the animals’s time and distract them from the more urgent tasks at hand.

The issue of sleeping in beds was related to the fact that since there were not enough beds for all of the animals. Having some animals sleep in beds would therefore create a hierarchy in a world in which all animals were said to be equal.

The consumption of alcohol is universally considered a vice, due to the state of impaired judgment that it causes.

Animals being prohibited to kill any other animal was meant to promote the idea of living together without fear and in harmony. Murder, of course, is always considered to be a morally depraved activity.

The final commandment is not a vice at face value. The pigs’s ultimate treatment of the other animals, however, is far from in keeping with any belief of equality.

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After Old Major has his dream about the animals' rebellion against man, he tells the animals that while fighting against man, the animals must not start to resemble him. For example, they can't live in a house, put on clothes, sleep in a bed, drink alcohol, smoke any kind of tobacco, use money, or carry out business.

Each of these activities can be considered a vice because they harm others and are signs of selfishness rather than a communitarian spirit. For example, by living in a house, animals will shelter themselves away from the rest of the community and perhaps deprive others of decent shelter. By using a bed, they might cause other animals to die or give of themselves to make the down that fills the quilts. Making and wearing clothes will take time away from the efforts the animals need to expend to feed themselves, and animals such as sheep and cows might be sacrificed to make clothes and shoes. Smoking and drinking are also activities that are vices because they are pastimes that take animals away from community activities and that make animals less able to work (as drink causes drunkenness, and smoking cigarettes makes people less healthy). Using money and conducting business would allow some animals to become more privileged than others rather than to be communitarian in spirit and share everything they produce equally.

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In chapter one, Old Major gives the animals a number of commandments. Firstly, anything that walks on four legs is a friend, while anything that walks on two legs is an enemy. Secondly, the animals must not adopt the "vices" of man, like sleeping in a bed or wearing clothes. Thirdly, no animal must harm another animal. Finally, all animals are equal.

These commandments could be considered a vice because of their negative portrayal of humans. For Old Major, every man is a tyrant, just like Mr. Jones, but this ignores the many humans who demonstrate care and compassion toward animals.

In addition, Old Major does not realize that animals are also capable of tyranny. As we see through the character of Napoleon, for example, some animals are so driven by their own desire for power that they treat their fellow animals as cruelly as any human. Many of the pigs, like Napoleon and Squealer, also consider themselves to be superior to the other animals on the farm.

While Old Major hoped that expelling the humans would bring peace to the animals, it ultimately brought even greater tyranny.

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The animals chose the commandments because they wanted to keep the farm pure from human activity.  They considered humans evil, and therefore tried to find ways to avoid emulating them.

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. (ch 1)

Therefore the commandments were written to avoid man’s vices, or weaknesses and immoral deeds.  There are commandments against killing other animals, but there are also rules against wearing clothes, sleeping in a bed, and drinking alcohol (ch 2).  These are considered man’s weaknesses.

Although most humans consider killing a sin, you have to look a little deeper to find the problems with the other infractions.  Wearing clothes could be considered vanity, and sleeping in a bed might be sloth (one of the deadly sins).  Drinking alcohol is often considered gluttony.

The commandments do not last long.  The pigs decide that they want some of these luxuries, and they begin changing the commandments.

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THE SEVEN COMMANDMENTS OF ANIMAL FARM

  • Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy.
  • Whatever goes upon four legs, or has wings, is a friend.
  • No animal shall wear clothes.
  • No animal shall sleep in a bed.
  • No animal shall drink alcohol.
  • No animal shall kill any other animal.
  • All animals are equal.

The first commandment does not account for any humans who love animals or who may routinely treat them in a humane manner. The second commandment does not take into account the innate predatory nature of some animals--such as the fox's desire to kill a hen or rabbit, or a hawk's need to hunt for rodents. The third commandment disallows protective covering that might warm animals in the winter.  As for the fourth commandment, any spot that an animal may use for a night's sleep could be considered a bed. The fifth commandment is one that is probably best for the animals to follow, since there is really no good reason for an animal to drink alcohol. The sixth commandment defies nature's laws concerning the surival of the fittest; many wild animals exist solely on their ability to prey upon a weaker species. The alternative would be starvation and death. As for the final commandment, equality is a great rule for human existence, but it is not necessarily true of animals. Some animals are much stronger than others; some run faster; some, such as the chimpanzee, are much more intelligent; and older animals are wiser than their young.

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Commandment #1: Whatever goes on two legs is an enemy. Men go on two legs and they abuse and take advantage of animals. If an animal doesn't treat men as enemies, they are allowing harming of fellow animals. #2: Whatever goes on four legs or has wings is a friend. All animals (who have four legs or wings), are mistreated by people in some way, so animals should work and live together as friends. Otherwise, they won't be able to overcome man's oppression. #3 No animal shall wear clothes. Wearing clothes is a sign of vanity (showing off). #4 No animal shall sleep in a bed. Beds are a luxury for rich and lazy men, not for animals. #5 No animal shall drink alcohol. Alcohol impairs judgment and interferes with the desire to work. #6 No animal shall kill another animal. If they do, they are no better than people. #7 All animals are equal. If some think they are superior, then they are thinking and acting like men.

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