Describe the teachings of Old Major in Animal Farm.

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readerofbooks eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Old Major is an important figure in the book, even if he dies in chapter two.  He is the one who gives the vision for the rebellion.  His teachings can be summarized with three points. 

First, he speaks of the woes of the animals on the farm.  They work, work, and work, and at the end of their lives they are killed.  In other words, the animals toil, don't enjoy the fruit of their toil, and finally die.  Here are his word:

‘Now, comrades, what is the nature of this life of ours? Let us face it: our lives are miserable, laborious, and short. We are born, we are given just so much food as will keep the breath in our bodies, and those of us who are capable of it are forced to work to the last atom of our strength; and the very instant that our usefulness has come to an end we are slaughtered with hideous cruelty.

Second, the root of all of the problems comes from humans.  They are the cruel taskmaster of the lives of the animals.  They enslave the animals and use them. So, if the animals get rid of humans by rebelling, then the animals will be free. 


'Is it not crystal clear, then, comrades, that all the evils of this life of ours spring from the tyranny of human beings? Only get rid of Man, and the produce of our labour would be our own. 

Third, since man is the enemy, the animals must band together.  They must come together in unity and revolt.  Moreover, if the rebellion is successful, the animals must remember not to imitate man.