Symbolism Of Imperialism In George Orwell's Shooting An Elephant

Decent Essays

“Shooting an Elephant” is a self-identity essay written by George Orwell telling of his time as an Imperial guard in Burma. With anti-European feelings at a high, his white face angered the Burmese farmers. This hatred was intensified by being seen as a symbol of the oppressive Imperials he worked for; consequently, Orwell was intensely disliked by the Burmese, and was treated as such. Alienated from being on the front line, and wrong side, of a tyrannical fight, he decided that imperialism was “an evil thing and the sooner [he] chucked up [his] job and got out the better.” (Orwell) Ultimately, his final order would completely sever his dedication to the job: the killing of an elephant. The moral complications that troubled his mind are described in detail allowing for the reader to transport themselves to the conundrum that lead to an epiphany. We are taken through Orwells moral confliction about his orders, as well as his ultimate actions and justifications. Orwell’s credibility is established early in the passage by conveying his position in the imperial guard as a police officer. This validity is further ascertained through honest analyzation of the political environment that surrounded him and admitting his entangled position regarding the native people. By admitting that the sight of prisoners and of those oppressed and beaten by the Empire burdening him with “an intolerable sense of guilt” (Orwell) he humanizes the perils of oppression. By placing himself in the

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