Shooting an Elephant
Orwell battles a constant struggle between his role as a British Police Officer and as a citizen who can recognize the error of the dominating, imperialistic government whose rules he must enforce. Orwell dislikes the tyrannical ways of British imperialism and is also discontent with the “evil-spirited little beasts who try to make his job impossible”. Orwell details the struggle between the misconception that he is another white tyrant in the British regime and the reality that he is just a puppet being controlled by strongholds of the government who employs him. Orwell must also face the strongly opinionated and oppressed natives who misjudge him and his moral compass. Orwell shoots the elephant because he cracks under the pressure to maintain his authority as a British officer and because of his inner conflict with the tyranny of imperialism which the elephant represents.
The empire, like the elephant, is very powerful and has enormous strength over the people. The elephant’s sudden attack on the marketplace symbolizes the British Empire’s reign over the Burma economy. When the elephant kills the man it represented the British’s oppression of the Burmese people and their village. This destruction put Orwell in a position to either allow this elephant, the representation of the tyranny of the empire, to continue its reign, or to be compelled by the Burmese people to act now and do something to put an end to everyone’s suffering. An inner conflict stirred within Orwell between his ethical integrity as an officer, and his awareness of his moral duties to the people. Orwell did not want to kill the elephant because it was like contradicting his position as an officer under the British regime, but he had to because it was the only logical way to keep his authority over the Burmese people and show that he in some bizarre way had the interest of the people in mind too.
Orwell was balancing the pressure of what the villagers wanted...
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