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

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jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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.

itsmrd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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.