In George Orwell's novel Animal Farm, what are some of the major points made by Old Major in his speech to the animals in the first chapter?

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vangoghfan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the opening chapter of George Orwell’s novel Animal Farm, an elderly pig known as Old Major gives a rousing speech intended to inspire the other animals to revolt against their owner, the farmer known as Mr. Jones. Old Major makes a number of distinct points in his speech, including the following:

  • The existence of farm animals is nasty, brutish, and brief:

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.

  • Farm animals in England are essentially slaves.
  • English farm animals have the opportunity to prosper because the natural environment in England is rich and advantageous.
  • The only thing that prevents the animals from prospering is their enslavement by humans.
  • Unlike the other animals, humans consume without producing.
  • Humans not only rob the animals of their labor but even of their offspring.
  • Mistreatment of animals by humans shortens the lifespan of the animals.
  • The humans even kill some of the old animals who are no longer capable of working.
  • Animals and humans have nothing in common, and the animals should never forget this fact.
  • Humans are selfish, and they are the inevitable enemies of animals.
  • In opposing humans, animals should never make the mistake of allowing themselves to resemble humans.
  • All animals are equal and should never harm one another. In particular, they should never kill one another.