Colonialism and Imperialism Exposed in Shooting an Elephant and Heart of Darkness

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Destructive Colonization Exposed in Shooting an Elephant and Heart of Darkness

As a man is captured, his first instinct is to try and break free from his shackles and chains. Primal urges such as this often accompany humans when they are forced, as in capture, to rely on their most basic instincts to survive.

In this manner, natives in Africa acted upon instinct when the Europeans arrived to take their land and freedom. The short story Shooting an Elephant by George Orwell and the novel Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad revolve around the time when colonialism had a foothold in many parts of the world. This setting is one of conflict with the native peoples in these countries who are fighting and rebelling against the
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This unrest needs to be subdued so that control will remain over the conquered. In this way, Orwell needed to exterminate an elephant because it had become wild and had killed a native man. However, the natives “had not shown much interest while [the elephant] was merely ravaging their homes, but it was different now that [the elephant] [is] going to be shot.” (Century, 146)

Shooting this elephant has much significance because it illustrates the control over the natives that the colonizers had. Orwell needed to kill the elephant in order to support his position of a law figure in his town. The elephant was unruly to begin with, but it also served as a reminder for Orwell’s constituents about who was in power, and who had control.

Control is also used in The Heart of Darkness when Marlow first sees a group of natives, “dying slowly- it [is] very clear”. They had “[become] inefficient” as Marlow states. Inefficient with the job and labor that was forced upon them by the colonizers. In this manner, it is evident that the natives were forced to work and die against their will. Marlow recounts that these men were forced to become slaves for England, forced to be oppressed and controlled by colonialist rule. The tyranny of the natives led to a struggle to keep order within Orwell’s and Marlow’s jurisdictions.

As Orwell and Marlow struggle to keep order at times, they both
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