In George Orwell's novel Animal Farm, in what ways is Old Major an ideal leader?

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In George Orwell’s novel Animal Farm, Old Major, an elderly male pig, is almost certainly meant to symbolize Karl Marx, the German philosopher who is considered the philosophical founder of communism. Old Major might be regarded, by some, as an ideal leader for various reasons, including the following:

  • He looks the part. As the narrator observes,

he was still a majestic-looking pig, with a wise and benevolent appearance in spite of the fact that his tushes had never been cut.

  • He is highly articulate, as his lengthy speech shows.
  • He addresses the other animals as if they are his equals, pointedly calling them “comrades.”
  • He alludes to his impending death and offers his teachings as a kind of parting gift to his fellow creatures. He thus seems both compassionate and deserving of compassion himself.
  • He claims to have spent much of his life thinking seriously about life on earth.
  • He speaks modestly but also with confidence.
  • He makes common cause with those he addresses, speaking as their representative, not as their superior.
  • He has a clear, simple, and straightforward explanation of the animals’ problems (which are all the fault of the humans), and he has a clear, simple, straightforward solution to their problems (overthrow the humans).
  • He speaks optimistically about all that could be accomplished, and all the happiness that might be achieved, once the humans are overthrown.
  • He is highly effective in making the animals perceive themselves as exploited victims.
  • He has a long-range vision: he doesn’t assume that a rebellion against humans will be easy or will happen overnight.
  • He seems to take the opinions of the other animals seriously, as when he asks them to vote about whether rats qualify as animals.
  • He realizes the importance of propaganda and art in furthering his cause, as when he teaches the other animals a revolutionary song.
  • He dies before he has to live in the society his followers establish. In other words, he never has to witness the practical consequences of his seemingly lofty ideas.



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