Analysis Of George Orwell's Shooting An Elephant

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In the year 1936, an essay entitled “Shooting an Elephant” was written by George Orwell in response to British imperialism. Orwell grew up in the imperial system; first his father then he himself worked within the imperial system. The essay was written after Orwell had retired from his job in imperial controlled Burma, and had “committed himself to democratic socialism, which included anti-imperialism philosophy” back in England(Kelly 307). Orwell explains in his essay that imperialism influences the people within its system to leave behind their morals. Orwell’s work within imperialism swayed his original standing on issues he once strongly believed in. Early in his work within imperialism as a police officer, inside the Burmese town of Moulmein,…show more content…
Orwell, when faced with shooting an elephant which was no longer causing problems, decided that the right thing to do was just let the elephant be. Orwell’s approach was shown through his original intents for the elephant rifle he had sent for upon hearing the true location of the elephant: “I had no intention of shooting the elephant – I had merely sent for the rifle to defend myself if necessary” (311). Orwell’s main view toward the elephant at this point is merely defensive. As he turned to face the crowd behind him, Orwell was pushed to reconsider: “And suddenly I realized that I should have to shoot the elephant after all… I could feel their two thousand wills pressing me forward” (311). Imperialism actually places the ruled as rulers and makes those in power as the powerless by the removal of their freedom of choice. Orwell now understands imperialism’s foundations, “For it is the condition of his rule that he shall spend his life in trying to impress the ‘natives’ and so in every crisis he has got to do what the natives expect of him” (312). Ironically, as Orwell discovers, imperialism is truly run by the people imperialism claims to govern. Orwell felt the power of the multitude as he saw he was “seemingly the leading actor of the piece; but in reality (he) was only an absurd puppet pushed to and fro…show more content…
A view, like how an oppressor is negatively affected, is often overshadowed by the more obvious effects on the victims. By showing imperialisms cost to imperialists, Orwell makes an argument which is more likely to be heard because of its negative impact to those in charge of making final decisions. Orwell demonstrates through his experience of working as a police officer within the imperialistic system the constriction of choice, freedom, and justice as individuals are steered to abandon their
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