Shooting An Elephant Essay, Research Paper
In the essay “Shooting an Elephant” by George Orwell, the author uses metaphors to represent his feelings on imperialism, the internal conflict between his personal morals, and his duty to his country. Orwell demonstrates his perspectives and feelings about imperialism.and its effects on his duty to the white man’s reputation. He seemingly blends his opinions and subjects into one, making the style of this essay generally very simple but also keeps it strong enough to merit numerous interpretations. Orwell expresses his conflicting views regarding imperialism throughout the essay by using three examples of oppression and by deliberatly using his introspection on imperialism.
In this story ,Orwell is taking part in imperialism by proving his power and dignity to the natives presenting imperialism metaphorically through the use of animals. He is using the elephant as a symbol of imperialism representing power as an untamed animal that has control over the village. He uses a large and very powerful animal to represent a significant metaphor for imperialism.. In doing so he leads to the understanding that the power behind imperialism is only as strong as its dominant rulers. Orwell’s moral values are challenged in many different ways, ironically enough while he too was the oppressor. He is faced with a very important decision of whether or not he should shoot the elephant. If he does so, he will be a hero to his people. In turn, he would be giving in to the imperial force behind the elephant that he finds so unjust and evil. If he lets the elephant go free and unharmed the natives will laugh at him and make him feel inferior for not being able to protect the village. Orwell represents the elephant as a force greater than he has the ability to kill. It takes him several shots to kill the elephant, and a prolonged period of time for it to die.Orwell’s decision to kill the elephant is a direct result of oppression. He demonstrates that this oppression perhaps goes deeper than the average man would imagine, noticeably hindering even the lives of the oppressors. The elephants controlling force over Orwell is compared to that of an imperialist.
Orwell’s extraordinary style is never displayed better than through the metaphors he uses in this essay. He expresses his conflicting views regarding imperialism through three examples of oppression: by his country, by the Burmese, and by himself on the Burmese. Oppression is shown by Orwell through the burden of servitude placed upon him by England: Orwell himself, against his will, has oppressed many. British Imperialism dominated not only Burma, but also other countries that did not belong to England. At the time it may appear, from the outside, he shows us that the officers were helping the Burmese because they too were against oppressors; however, from the inside he demonstrates that they too were trying to annex other countries. Though Orwell’s handling of this subject is detailed, in the end, he subtly condemns imperialism. Orwell finds himself in a moral predicament no different than the ones placed on the white men in the East. He justifies his actions, driven by the instigation of the Burmese. Orwell also feels forced by the natives to kill the elephant, hindering his intentions and thrusting upon him their own. In Orwell’s essay he implies that the coolie killed by the elephant represents the invasion of Burma by the British and just as no one can predict the next victim of the elephant, also no one can predict the next victim of the British. Since the coolie is killed he is demonstrating to us a justifiable reason to kill the elephant. He tells us how the natives take on the role of imperialists as they stand in a big crowd behind him waiting for him to shoot the elephant wanting only to use him in order to attain the elephants meat and tusks. Orwell plays a distinctive role in the part of imperialism. In perspectives he gives you a true feeling of imperialism and its divest affects among the people under imperialistic control.Orwell strongly implies that imperialists use their people for battle and have no remorse for them by using them as their little plastic fiqures that they send out to fight. He implies that the imperialist are being controlled by the Emporers and Queens, who in turn, never take part in the actual fighting as how the natives never took part in shooting of the elephant.
Orwell speaks of how he is so against imperialism, but gives in to the natives by shooting the elephant to prove he is strong and to avoid humiliation. He implies that he does not want to be thought of as British, but he does not want to be thought the fool either. Orwell makes his decision to shoot the elephant appear to be reasonable but underneath it all he questions his actions just as he questions those of the British. He despised both the British Empire as well as the Burmese natives, making everything more complicated and complex. In his essy he shows us that the elephant represents imperialism; therefore, the slow destruction of the elephant must represent the slow demise of British Imperialism.