What are some rhetorical devices that Old Major uses in Animal Farm?
In Animal Farm by George Orwell, Old Major makes a speech to the animals living on the farm. He gives the speech to make the animals rethink their current conditions and try to provoke a revolution. He uses lots of rhetoric in his speaking to try and persuade the animals into thinking what he wants them to think.
A rhetorical device that Old Major uses frequently throughout his speech is asking rhetorical questions. A rhetorical question is when someone asks a question, but isn’t really looking for an answer. Old Major asks many questions about the animals’ current situation but only to make them think about it. One of the first rhetorical questions that he asks the animals is “What is the nature of this life of ours?” By asking this question it makes the animals think about the quality of their current living conditions. It was wise to ask this specific question because the animals have most likely never questioned their living conditions before. He also asks questions aimed at specific animals to make them think about their unique conditions and how unfair they are. He exclaims at the hens, “How many eggs have you laid in this last year, and how many of those eggs ever hatched into chickens?” The chickens know that the vast majority of the eggs that they lay are all sold and eaten. This question plays with the hens’ emotions because they obviously want to have baby hens, but cannot under Mr. Jones. The way that Old Major uses rhetorical questions shows how he is a powerful rhetorician.
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He also uses strong word choice to put his point across. For example, He emphasizes “He sets them to work, he gives back to them the bare minimum that will prevent them from starving, and he keeps the rest for himself.”