' Shooting An Elephant, And George Orwell's Literary Modernism

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Literary modernism, starting in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, pushed to break the traditions of empiricism and fact-based writing. Modernist writers illustrated the idea that art doesn’t need to represent reality and writers experimented with many techniques to reflect on their ideologies and moral conundrums. This bending of reality for the benefit of art and expression is evident in George Orwell’s 1936 essay “Shooting an Elephant.” Orwell’s subject matters and stylistic techniques set his generation apart from writers such as Francis Bacon who essayed in a time where accuracy and Aristotelian logic held more weight than imagination. These differences can be revealed by comparing George Orwell’s essay to Francis Bacon’s 1597 essay, “Of Ambition.” Within the genre of modernism, writers took many different approaches to the essay and felt no bounds with regard to the subject matter or structure of their essays. Writers pressured traditional morals and customs and showed the world through different perspectives. “Shooting an Elephant” is a good example of these characteristics of modernism because of its main themes of morality and personal struggle. Orwell writes a creative story about himself in a situation where he must either kill an elephant or face complete humiliation by society. The first-person narration reveals the moral struggle he faces and his contemplation between what he thought was right versus what the hateful society wanted. Orwell writes “I had
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