A wise and persuasive pig, old Major inspires the rebellion with his rhetorical skill and ability to get the other animals to share his indignation. When he announces that he wishes to share the contents of his strange dream with his companions, all the animals comply, demonstrating the great respect they have for such an important (that is, “major”) figure. His speech about the tyranny of man is notable for its methodical enumeration of man’s wrongs against the animals. Listing all of man’s crimes, old Major rouses the other animals into planning the rebellion. His leading them in singing “Beasts of England” is another demonstration of his rhetorical skills, for after he teaches the animals the song about a world untainted by human hands, the animals sing it five times in succession.
The flaw in old Major’s thinking is that he places total blame on man for all the animals’ ills. According to him, once they “Remove Man from the scene,” then “the root cause of hunger and overwork” will be abolished forever. Clearly, old Major believes that Man is capable only of doing harm and that animals are capable only of doing good. Such one-dimensional thinking that ignores the desire for power inherent in all living things can only result in its being disproved. Also ironic is old Major’s admonition to the animals: “Remember also that in fighting against Man, we must not come to resemble him.” This warning is ignored by Napoleon and the other pigs, who, by the novel’s end, completely resemble their human masters.