Animal Farm

Old Major Character Analysis

A revered old boar who, at the beginning of the novel, gathers the animals together to speak to them about what’s wrong with their world. He proposes that humanity is their one true enemy, as people profit off of what animals produce without producing anything themselves—and specifically in the case of Mr. Jones, humans are cruel, unfeeling, and abuse those below them. Old Major’s speech forms the basis for Animalism, a theory that Napoleon and Snowball develop in the three months after Old Major’s death. Old Major dies a few months before the revolution and so never gets to see his ideas play out in the real world, but Napoleon does eventually disinter Old Major’s head so that the other animals can walk past it reverently. Old Major symbolizes both Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin, the fathers of Communism.

Old Major Quotes in Animal Farm

The Animal Farm quotes below are all either spoken by Old Major or refer to Old Major. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Totalitarianism Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Signet Classics edition of Animal Farm published in 1996.
Chapter 1 Quotes

“Why then do we continue in this miserable condition? Because nearly the whole of the produce of our labour is stolen from us by human beings.”

Related Characters: Old Major (speaker), Mr. Jones
Page Number: 7
Explanation and Analysis:
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“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. Man is the only creature that consumes without producing. He does not give milk, he does not lay eggs, he is too weak to pull the plough, he cannot run fast enough to catch rabbits. Yet he is lord of all the animals. He sets them to work, he gives back to them the bare minimum that will prevent them from starving, and the rest he keeps for himself.”

Related Characters: Old Major (speaker), Mr. Jones
Page Number: 7-8
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

“Remember, comrades, your resolution must never falter. No argument must lead you astray. Never listen when they tell you that Man and the animals have a common interest, that the prosperity of the one is the prosperity of the others. It is all lies. Man serves the interests of no creature except himself. And among us animals let there be perfect unity, perfect comradeship in the struggle. All men are enemies. All animals are comrades.”

Related Characters: Old Major (speaker), Mr. Jones
Page Number: 10
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Chapter 2  Quotes

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.

Related Characters: Napoleon, Snowball, Old Major
Page Number: 24-25
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Chapter 3 Quotes

Nobody stole, nobody grumbled over his rations, the quarreling and biting and jealousy which had been normal features of life in the old days had almost disappeared.

Related Characters: Old Major
Page Number: 29
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
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Old Major Character Timeline in Animal Farm

The timeline below shows where the character Old Major appears in Animal Farm. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Class Warfare Theme Icon
...animals all stir and make their way to the big barn, where the old boar, Old Major , wants to address everyone. Old Major lies on a raised platform. The three dogs... (full context)
Revolution and Corruption Theme Icon
Class Warfare Theme Icon
Language as Power Theme Icon
...the cat finds the warmest spot between Boxer and Clover. The cat doesn’t listen to Old Major at all. Seeing that everyone but old Moses, the tame raven, is present, Old Major... (full context)
Revolution and Corruption Theme Icon
Class Warfare Theme Icon
Language as Power Theme Icon
Old Major insists that humans are the only creatures who consume without producing anything, like milk or... (full context)
Totalitarianism Theme Icon
Revolution and Corruption Theme Icon
...dogs catch sight of four rats listening in and chases them back to their holes. Old Major calls for silence and insists that they must vote on whether wild animals are enemies... (full context)
Revolution and Corruption Theme Icon
Language as Power Theme Icon
Old Major explains that he’s going to teach everyone a song that his mother taught him part... (full context)
Chapter 2 
Class Warfare Theme Icon
Language as Power Theme Icon
Old Major dies three nights later, in early March. Over the next three months, his ideas capture... (full context)
Chapter 5
Totalitarianism Theme Icon
Class Warfare Theme Icon
Language as Power Theme Icon
The Soviet Union Theme Icon
...the animals gather in the barn to get their orders for the week. Napoleon disinters Old Major ’s skull and asks everyone to walk past it reverently, while during meetings, the animals... (full context)
Chapter 10
Totalitarianism Theme Icon
...still feel immense pride at the sight of their flag, and they all believe that Old Major ’s foretold Republic of the Animals will still come. They secretly hum “Beasts of England”... (full context)