How Is Imperialism Justified

Decent Essays
According to Edward Said, a literary critic on imperialism, every empire tells itself that its mission is “not to plunder and control but to educate and liberate.” Twisted intents like these allow the immoral methods used in different faiths and cultures to be justified. Doing what is right is no longer the better choice if those who have power think otherwise. When one sees the outcome of the brutal methods in which alpha humans treat their “inferior” members of the same race in the process of colonization, they will begin to doubt whether these highly respected people should be followed as an example of strong and just leadership, and so strongly that one may deem the enemy the wiser choice to follow. In Orwell’s “Shooting an Elephant”…show more content…
Along the way, Marlow arrives at the Company’s outermost station and is appalled by what he sees: colonists are blasting a cliff without reason, machinery lies decaying, natives walk in chains, and in a grove of trees, other native labourers are slowly dying. This leads Marlow to remark that he was acquainted with a “flabby, pretending, weak-eyed devil of a rapacious and pitiless folly” (Conrad 13). Describing the colonials’ behaviour as such reveals that Marlow is critical of imperialism. Different from the other devils of greed, violence and desire, the devil of imperialism is foolish and futile in its actions, absent-mindedly bombing a cliff instead of repairing and making use of machinery. In order for Marlow to acquire this point of view, he had to see the chaos and absurdity of the Outer Station. Before his journey began, his aunt had thought of Marlow as an “emissary of light” who would remove “‘those ignorant millions from their horrid ways’” (Conrad 10). His aunt’s ignorance to the real purpose of the Company and the actions of the colonizers show obvious satirical irony. In Marlow’s mind, his aunt could not be more “out of touch with the truth” (Conrad 10); he seems to be the only one who expresses any concern over the dying natives, who he…show more content…
During the weakest points of the British rule, the narrator, a sub-divisional police officer, presents at once the dilemma he is in – after seeing the “wretched prisoners huddling in the stinking cages of the lock-ups” and the “scarred buttocks” (Orwell 1, par. 2, lines 5-7) of the men who had been beaten, he was secretly “all for the Burmese and all against their oppressors, the British” (Orwell 1, par. 2, lines 3,4). But the Burmese, seeing him as just another white colonist, mock and laugh at him and make petty transgressions. As long as the narrator keeps his job, he will forever hate the British for their harsh treatment and the Burmese for trying to “make his job impossible” (Orwell 1, par. 2, line 13). Later on, the police officer is called to take care of a ravaging elephant. After seeing that the elephant has already killed an Indian coolie, he now approaches the elephant with a rifle, along with a large crowd expecting the elephant to be killed and wanting the meat. The essayist now realizes that although he does not want or to need to shoot the elephant, he became a “hollow, posing dummy (…) [that] shall spend his life trying to impress the ‘natives’” and therefore
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