Rhetoric in Animal Farm by George Orwell
What if the roles of life reversed? Meaning that, instead of humans, animals would have the authority and lead the way of life instead of humans. This exaggeration was demonstrated on a smaller scale in the novella Animal Farm written by George Orwell. The animals lived on the Manor Farm working laborious days, day to day, every week without any thought of a different life. That is until the oldest boar on the farm, Old Major, held a meeting to discuss a dream he had. The dream inspired him to lead the discussion of a rebellion. One in which humans are overthrown by animals. Old Major used different persuasion techniques, including ethos, pathos, and logos, to manipulate and convince the other animals that a rebellion would be for the greater good. But keep in mind; Every rise has its fall, just as every hierarchy has its anarchy.
When delivering his speech Old Major used his reputation to his advantage. Ethos is the speech technique that shows or uses power/authority to connect to an audience. Throughout the beginning of Animal Farm, Old Major was described as being highly regarded compared to the other animals. Old Major said, “I have had a long life, I have had much time for thought as I lay alone in my stall, and I think I may say that I understand the nature of life on this earth as well as any animal now living”(Orwell 2). This gives the impression of Old Major being knowledgeable, which the animals believe he is. Just as today in society, the animals feel obligated to listen to him because he is in fact established, and they believe anything he says must be truthful and holds significant meaning.
Once Major had the animals’ attention he continued the speech but included a different technique. Old Major used the persuasion method pathos which means he connected to the animals emotionally to make them intrigued. Orwell wrote him saying, “I do not think, comrades, that I shall be with you for many months longer”(2). Old Major feels his long life is coming to an end. By sharing this with the other animals they feel sympathetic for Old Major. Which can make them more willing to do whatever it is he asks them to. Again he demonstrates when describing how the animals have lived under the watch of Mr. Jones. He speaks using “we” and “our”.
By doing this he expresses problems that are shared. This common ground is something he can draw from to win the affection of his audience. Old Major talks about problems that have plagued the farm animals for a long time, but he was never majorly affected by them. He even takes note of this in his speech; by saying “For I myself do not grumble, for I am one of the lucky ones”(Orwell 3). This is quite odd because he was trying to call himself one of them even though he did not experience the same hardships.
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