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Orwell Shooting An Elephant Essay Research Paper

Orwell: Shooting An Elephant Essay, Research Paper In George Orwells ?Shooting an Elephant?, Orwell is faced with a terrible decision. By taking the life of the elephant which so wrongly took the life of

Orwell: Shooting An Elephant Essay, Research Paper

In George Orwells ?Shooting an Elephant?, Orwell is faced with a terrible

decision. By taking the life of the elephant which so wrongly took the life of

the Indian, the killing was then justified in Orwells mind. He was taking a

stand for the lower man, which in his eyes represented himself, and showing an

overwhelming power over the elephant,or British Empire. This view will always

win the heart of the reader. The reader can feel sympathy towards Orwell

rather than hate him for taking another beings life.In the author?s lifetime, as a police officer, he is hated by many of the

Burmese people for being just that. He was an obvious target and therefore was

picked on whenever it seemed okay to do so. As Orwell states, ?when a nimble

Burman tripped me up on the football field and the referee looked the other

way, the crowd yelled with hideous laughter.?(91) He already viewed

imperialism as a terrible thing and wanted to get out of his job as soon as

possible. Orwell had a secret hatred for the British Empire; however, he also

had a rage against the bad spirited Burmans who tired to make his job

impossible. His incredible hatred towards the Buddhist priests was a feeling

that he considered ?the normal by-products of imperialism.?(Orwell 92) Orwell

disliked the Burmese people, but he hated the British Empire more. He just

could not show such hatred for the empire that ruled everything around him, including him. The real nature of imperialism came shining through when Orwell was called

upon to do something about a tiny incident. An elephant was ravaging the

bazaar; however, in some way it was enlightening to the author. The elephant

that had apparently gone must was not wild. It was rather tame. The Burmans were not armed and were really helpless against it. The ravishing

beast not only caused complete chaos, but also killed an Indian, a black

Dravidian coolie.? The elephant had come suddenly upon him round the corner of

the hut,caught him with its trunk, put its foot on his back, and ground him

into the earth.?(Orwell 93) After witnessing this Orwell went to retrieve his

rifle. Once the author approached with his rifle in hand, the Burmese people

now began to show some excitement and interest. The near thought of the

elephant being shot ?was a bit of fun to them, as it would be to an English

crowd.?(Orwell 93) Once again Orwell found himself a puppet of the system.As a police officer, and in a sense a prisoner of the British Empire, he knew

what was expected of him. Orwell states, ?I did not in the least want to shoot

him.?(94) Orwell knew that the Burmese people did not like him, yet somehow

having the rifle in hand made himself suddenly interesting to them. ?They were

watching me as they would watch a conjurer about to perform a trick.?(Orwell

94) He knew that he had to do what was expected of him. He would have to

shoot the elephant. Orwell states, ?I could feel their two thousand wills

pressing me forward, irresistibly.?(94) He knew that he had become a sort of

posing dummy, the conventionalized figure of an official. He had to do what

the Burmans expected him to do. Orwell speaks of how he wears a mask and now

his face has grown to fit it. He has turned into exactly what he hated most

about them. Though he did not want to shoot the elephant, he felt it was something that had to be done. To the author elephants had a kind of

?grandmotherly air?(Orwell 95) which made him squeamish at the thought of

shooting and eventually killing one. It was what Orwell considered his hardest

task. After multiple shootings the elephant was finally dying. Orwell states, “I could not take it any longer and went away. I heard it took him half an hour to die.”(96)

Bibliography

Orwell, George. ?Shooting an Elephant.? Patterns for college writing: A

Rhetorical Reader and Guide. 7th ed. Eds. Laurie G. Kirszner and

Stephen R. Mandell. New York: St. Martin?s Press, 1997. 91-97

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