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Literary Analysis Of “Shooting An Elephant,” By George Orwell

1351 words - 6 pages

In “Shooting an Elephant,” George Orwell achieves two achievements : he shows us his personal experience and his expression while he was in Burma; he use the metaphor of the elephant to explain to describe what Burma looked like when it was under the British Imperialism. The special about this essay is that Orwell tells us a story not only to see the experience that he had in Burma; he also perfectly uses the metaphor of the elephant to give us deep information about the Imperialism. By going through this essay, we can deeply understand what he thinks in his head. He successfully uses the word choices and the sentences to express his feeling. By reading this essay, Orwell succeeds us with ...view middle of the document...

We can see the destruction of imperialism when Orwell depicts “An elephant was ravaging the bazaar” ()and “It had already destroyed somebody’s bamboo huts, kill a cow and raided some fruit-stalls and devoured the stock;” (). Orwell uses this metaphor of an elephant’s rage and destruction of homes, theft of food shelves, and even killings as an example to the inner working of imperialism. Metaphorically, Orwell expands his argument about how imperialism is tyrannical towards to the Burmese people by comparing an elephant’s rage to the British Empire’s invasion of Burma and its destruction of the native life. Similarly, the elephant’s theft of food represents the oppressed of the British Empire’s imperialism has brought upon the Burmese people. They try to implement their aim of domination upon Burma without any care upon the Burmese way of life. This event not only makes the oppressed country become the victims of the imperialism, but it also is the foundation of Orwell’s dilemma regarding the killing of an elephant or the peer pressure he feels towards killing. In short, the use of metaphorical devices found throughout Orwell’s narrative help emphasizing the similarities of imperialism to that of an elephant ravaging through a town, illustrating the true effects it has upon the Burmese people.
Beyond the use of metaphorical techniques, Orwell also uses vivid imagery to the strongest extent, to further his stand against the imperial forces. Under the oppression of British imperialism, the Burmese people become “wretched prisoners huddling in the stinking cages of the lock-ups, the grey, cowed faces of the long-term convicts” (Orwell 285). Orwell applies negative connotations such as “wretched”, “cowed”, and “flogged” to describe harsh images of prisoners and convicts that have been stripped and locked up against their own will. Orwell uses such forms of extreme imagery to highlight imperialism and its cruelty and vicious practices. Orwell also uses strong images to portray the horrifying impact of imperialism upon native British citizens as well. “I had had to think out of my problems in the utter silence that is imposed on every Englishman in the East” (Orwell 285). As Orwell goes over the critical decision of killing an elephant, he comes upon the realization that the “white man” must be able to display strength and authority when people demand it. Orwell places the role of the ever-powerful “white man” against his strongest image “an absurd puppet” whose actions have no free will of their own, but rather are a reflection of the puppeteer. Although Orwell believes the “white man” with the “magical gun” as being technically in power, he feels degraded and oppressed by the natives-the puppeteer and their will. He recognizes the true position of whites in the East and how imperialism has hurt both the oppressed people as well as the oppressor themselves. Orwell’s reflection of native British workers exemplifies the role of a puppet victimized by...

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