Old Major

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Main article: Animal Farm
Old Major
First appearance Animal Farm
Last appearance Animal Farm (Only Appearance)
Created by George Orwell
Information
Nickname(s) Willingdon Beauty
Species Middle White boar
Gender Male
Occupation Revolutionary Leader of Animal Farm

Old Major (also called Willingdon Beauty, his name used when showing) is the first major character described by George Orwell in Animal Farm. This "purebred" of pigs is a kind, grandfatherly philosopher of change. According to Christopher Hitchens: "the persons of Lenin and Marx are combined into one, or, it might even be truer to say, there is no Lenin-pig at all".[1]

Old Major proposes a solution to the animals' desperate plight on Manor Farm under the Jones administration and inspires thoughts of a rebellion. The actual time of the revolt is unsaid; it could be tomorrow or several generations down the road. Old Major dies three days after delivering his speech and the animals, stirred up by this speech, set to work immediately on the bringing about of the Rebellion.

Shortly after his death, the animals rise in revolt and oust the humans from power. This rebellious act is so quick that many do not realize it happened until it is over. The animals drive Jones and the farmhands off of the farm and remove many of the implements of his rule.

The Seven Commandments that Snowball had transcribed, that were supposed to encompass Old Major's general philosophy, are gradually altered and deformed under Napoleon until they come to entirely different meanings than were originally intended. "Beasts of England", the song that came to Old Major in his dream, was later banned on Animal Farm by Napoleon, at which time it was replaced by "Comrade Napoleon", a hymn composed by Minimus the pig that pledges allegiance to Animal Farm and to work to protect it.

In both film adaptations, Major dies while provoking the animals into rebelling. In the 1954 adaption, he dies suddenly while the animals are singing. In the 1999 version Farmer Jones slips in mud while investigating the sounds coming from the barn, which sets off his shotgun, and indirectly hits Major in his backside, killing him.

Major's skull is dug up and saluted by the animals every day, even after the rebellion, as a sign of respect that the animals remember their roots and the roots of the Rebellion. Napoleon, who has decided to accept the humans and strike bargains with them, announces that the remains are to be disposed of because they represent the old days when animal farm was "violent and primitive" towards humans; towards the end of the story Napoleon announces that he has buried the skull.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Hitchens, Christopher (17 September 2002), Why Orwell Matters, Basic Books, pp. 186–187, ISBN 978-0-465-03049-1