Elephant Essay, Research Paper
In both “The Battle of the Ants” by Thoreau and “Shooting an Elephant” by Orwell, imperialism plays a role. Both authors present, to some degree, their perspectives and feelings about imperialism. Orwell and Thoreau both present imperialism metaphorically through the use of animals and insects. The authors thus deliberate their introspection on imperialism by either being an imperialistic force or by taking part in imperialism.
In “The Battle of the Ants” by Thoreau and “Shooting an Elephant” by Orwell, both authors use metaphors to represent their perspectives on imperialism. In “Shooting an Elephant” Orwell is taking part in imperialism by proving his power and dignity to the natives. In “The Battle of the Ants” Thoreau acts as the imperialist, or emperor, watching over a metaphorical battle between ants in which he never interferes or takes part in. Thoreau represents imperialism by comparing the “black imperialist “ ants against the “red republican” ants. In “shooting an elephant” the elephant in symbolic of imperialism representing power as an untamed animal that has control over the village. In both stories the authors use animals to represent a significant metaphor for imperialism. Orwell uses a large and very powerful animal to represent imperialism, while Thoreau uses a small yet strong animal. This comparison leads to the understanding that the power behind imperialism is only as strong as its dominant rulers.
In “Shooting an Elephant” Orwell represents the elephant as a force greater than the narrator has the ability to kill. It takes the narrator several shots to kill him, and a prolonged period of time for him to die. The elephants controlling force over the narrator is compared to that of an imperialist. Orwell 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 the narrator 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. In “The Battle of the Ants” Thoreau never expresses his feelings on imperialism, but uses the ants to metaphorically show how imperialism is unfair. Thoreau describes the black ants as the imperialists who are larger and stronger compared to the red ants that represent the republicans. Thoreau describes the agonizing battle that is going on outside his door and watches as the black imperialist ants fight to a harrowing death, or victory, showing how neither side is willing to give up. Orwell and Thoreau both use animals to represent imperialism articulating the narrator’s views in which they are either taking part in imperialism, or taking on the part of an imperialist.
In “The Battle of the Ants” Thoreau takes on the role of the imperialist while in “Shooting an Elephant” Orwell is taking part in imperialism. In “Shooting an Elephant” the narrator feels forced by the natives to kill the elephant. The natives take on the role of imperialists as they stand in a big crowd behind him waiting for him to shoot the elephant. Imperialists use their people (metaphorically) as their little plastic fiqures they send out to fight. The Emporers and Queens have control over them but never take part in the actual fighting, like how the natives never took part in shooting of the elephant. The narrator 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. The natives only use the narrator to attain the elephants meat and tusks. The narrator became the crowds puppet being “pushed to and fro by the will of those yellow faces behind.” (Orwell 1837) In “The Battle of the Ants” Thoreau acts as an imperialist watching the ants do battle over each other. As a narrator, Thoreau has a larger more powerful stance over the ants. At the end of the story Thoreau’s thoughts on imperialism are those of experience. Thoreau says: “I never learned which party was victorious, nor the cause of the war; but I felt for the rest of the day as if I had my feelings excited and harrowed by witnessing the struggle, the ferocity and carnage of human battle before my door.” (Thoreau 1747) Imperialists use their people for battle and have no remorse for them. As Thoreau watches over them fighting he realizes the struggle behind human battle and sees imperialism through the perspective of the ferocity that they endure. Thoreau also comes to realize the extent of the Internecine struggles the imperialist and republicans have. Thoreau and Orwell both play distinctive roles in the parts of imperialism. In both perspectives each narrator gets a true feeling of imperialism and its divest affects among the people under imperialistic control.
In both “The Battle of the Ants” and “Shooting an Elephant” the authors express their views on imperialism metaphorically through the use of animals and insects. The two different points of represented as either being an imperialistic force or by being an active part of imperialism.