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Analysis Of Shooting An Elephant By George Orwell

919 words - 4 pages

Analysis of Shooting an Elephant by George Orwell

George Orwell's essay 'Shooting an Elephant' gives remarkable insight into the human psyche. The essay presents a powerful theme of inner conflict. Orwell feels strong inner conflict between what he believes as a human being, and what he believes and should do as an imperial police officer. The author is amazingly effective in illustrating this conflict by providing specific examples of contradictory feelings, by providing an anecdote that exemplified his feelings about his situation, and by using vivid imagery to describe his circumstances.

Orwell begins to show his inner conflict by stating how he felt about being a European imperial policeman. By serving Britain is a policeman he is showing that he is loyal to his country, but at the same time he believed that ??imperialism was an evil thing?? His conflict results form the fact that he hates the British Empire which should make him pity the Burmese people but he does not. This is made clear when he says, ?All I knew was that I was stuck between my hatred of the empire I served and my rage against the evil-spirited beasts who tried to make my job impossible. With one part of my mind I thought of the British Raj as an unbreakably tyranny, as something clamped down, in saecula saeculorum, upon the will of prostrate peoples; with another part I thought that the greatest joy in the world be to drive a bayonet into a Buddhist priest?s guts.?

The primary illustration of his inner conflict is told through the anecdote of the elephant. In the story of the elephant Mr. Orwell paints a picture of another type of inner conflict that he experienced while working in Burma. That is, when one knows deep inside what they should rightly do, but due to outside pressures and influences they choose another course of action. The anecdote is about an elephant that is out of control and is ravaging a village. George Orwell is called out to neutralize the situation, but he does not know what he can do to help things. When he arrived at the scene he was told the elephant got away to paddy fields a thousand yards away. As Orwell made his way to the paddy the crowd behind him grew as they all hoped and assumed he would shoot the elephant. Upon reaching the field Orwell writes, ?As soon as I saw the elephant I knew with perfect certainty that I ought not to shoot him.? By this time the crowd had grown to the size of at least two thousand, and every one of them wanted to see the...

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