Imperialism - an Irony - Shooting an Elephant

1255 WordsFeb 5, 20136 Pages
Imperialism ­ an irony. Imperialism is a no­win situation: ● ● ● Throughout the short text we see Orwell as a character torn between two completely juxtaposed ideals: that in support of the oppressed and the colonial. We are barely halfway through the opening sentence when Orwell declares how he was “hated by large numbers of people” and we quickly learn of the immense anger he has towards his tormentors. Initially, we learn of Orwell’s personal experience of power and how he is “hated by large numbers of people”. ● We quickly see how much of a struggle it is for Orwell to endure the bitterness of the locals. ○ ○ ● Orwell paints the “sneering yellow faces of young men” and talks of the insults “hooted” at his…show more content…
This metaphor is then extended to the idea of a puppet. We see this image of the crowd pulling at Orwell’s strings, physically moving his limbs for him and forcing him to act against his will. We see the nature of the pupett having no will or mind of it’s own, not ability to decide in it’s fate but instead purely reliant on those who control it suggesting Orwell’s ultimate dependance upon the Burmese in his decision making process. The idea of performance suggests a nature of “playing up” to the locals. It suggests that the colonials are adhering to some sort of stereotype, trying to keep up appearances, to match the expectations of the people. He suggests this idea of an illusion of control, that the colonials think they have free will, power yet in fact they are lead by their own stereotype: ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ○ We again see the will of those people is a stronger force that the threat of Orwell’s weapon. We see the gun is ultimately futile and so too is Orwell’s power. “He wears a mask, and his face grows to fit it”. This metaphor really hammers home the idea of acting up to stereotype. The colonials, as colonials, feel they need to act in a particular way and thus their free will is impeded. They feel they must do what is “expected of them”. “A sahib has got to act like a Sahib” We see Orwell performs the role that is expected of him, but in pretending, in performance, he
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