Internal Conflict In George Orwell's Shooting An Elephant

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George Orwell held a unique perspective on Britain’s involvement in Burma. Through his own experiences in Burma, he developed an inner struggle between following orders and opposing imperialism, that he expressed in the story Shooting an Elephant. Orwell was born under the name Eric Blair in colonial India. As an adult, he joined the Imperial Police stationed in Burma, where he soon discovered a conflict brewing within himself. He was naturally a reflective person, analyzing what he saw to be obvious disparities in the two sides of an Imperialistic relationship. He experienced these obvious disparities in person while working as a police officer. Out of 13,000 Imperial Police in Burma, the top 90 were almost entirely comprised of white Englishmen.…show more content…
However, his internal conflict arose because of his dislike for the Burmese people. When working in Burma, he found his daily interaction with the Burmese people to be unpleasant and enervating. Even in the first paragraph of Shooting An Elephant, he says:
“In the end the sneering yellow faces of young men that met me everywhere, the insults hooted after me when I was at a safe distance, got badly on my nerves. The young Buddhist priests were the worst of all. There were several thousands of them in the town and none of them seemed to have anything better to do except stand on street corners and jeer at Europeans.” (Orwell, 1319). When viewing the situation objectively, it is understandable that the locals would have resentment towards Englishmen. They felt vulnerable and saw them as a threat. Orwell still empathized with the locals, understanding the hatred they felt. And yet, as a human being with feelings, it proved hard to deal with such hatred and remain empathetic and compassionate at all times. He demonstrates his abhorrence towards the locals by saying, “I thought the greatest joy in the world would be to drive a bayonet into a Buddhist priest’s guts.” (Orwell, 1320) He was stuck between knowing his job was wrong and being a perpetuator of destructive British Imperialism, and having to face daily torment from the
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