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The Hidden Truth Of Imperialism Essay

985 words - 4 pages

In George Orwell's analytically essay, Shooting an Elephant, Orwell reflects on the five years he spent working as a police officer for the Indian Imperial Police in Burma, India. While writing about a serious issue in his essay, George takes a less formal approach to this particular piece of writing; reflecting on past events in a form of a personal memoir. It is within his memoir, Orwell explores the cruelty of the human race and the actions people, including himself, take to prevent further ridicule and abuse. George Orwell utilizes an extreme humanist perspective against imperialism, using his own traumatizing experiences in India to support his claim regarding the 'natural' cruelty humans seem to inherit when feeling oppressed.
Orwell is able to effectively express his argument of the subliminal, but drastic impact that imperialism can have on a suppressed nation. Orwell achieves this by giving his readers many examples of the inhumane treatment he endured while in India. As an Imperial officer working for the British Imperial Empire, Orwell is deeply resented by all of the Burmese people in Lower Burma that are under his rule and protection. However, George states in his essay that instead of protecting the people of Burma he spent a vast majority of his time struggling not to be ridiculed or abused by the locals. George Orwell openly expresses his own frustration to his situation in his memoir; his obvious dislike "for the empire [he] served" (Orwell 282) and its imperialism oppression and his blatant "rage against evil-spirited little beasts" (282) who reciprocated his hatred because of his employment as a British officer in their home. However, it is because of Orwell's inability to choose between his British identity and feelings towards imperialism that puts him in the uncomfortable circumstance that he experiences whilst serving in India.
It is only with his encounter with the elephant running rampant in the town that finally gives him a "better glimpse of the real nature of imperialism". Orwell's story regarding how he shot an "elephant [that] looked no more dangerous than a cow" is what ultimately opens his eyes to how imperialism truly operates. Despite knowing that killing the elephant was both morally wrong and generally discouraged in Indian society, Orwell stills kills the beast. Years later, Orwell truly believes that it was due to the intense pressure brought on by the crowds behind him that finally prompted him to kill the elephant. The lack of respect and the intense fear of appearing cowardly to the locals was what motivated Orwell to ultimately pull the trigger. In a desperate attempt to reassertion control over his situation with the locals in India, George Orwell finds himself playing a role — unwittingly — for imperialism.
Figuratively, Orwell's uses his unjustified, barbaric act of killing of the elephant to express something significantly deeper in his memoir. The elephant essentially becomes a metaphor for...

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