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Shooting an Elephant by George Orwell - Essay Example

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In the essay “Shooting an Elephant by George Orwell” the author analyzes“ old values” that are closely connected with British colonialism. From Orwell’s letters and essays it becomes clear, that he was a great patriot of Britain…
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Shooting an Elephant by George Orwell
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Download file to see previous pages Orwell writes: “I did not want to shoot the elephant… It seemed to me that it would be murder to shoot him”. The moment of making decision to kill is not described. Orwell says briefly: “I had got to act quickly”. It means that despite all his speculations “want/don’t want”, the decision and plan were already in his head. In fact, it was not obligatory to kill it. There are other measures. But the crowd wanted this elephant dead. The crowd wanted spectacle and food. And Orwell gave them what they wanted, realizing an ancient Roman principle “panem et circenses” (bread and circuses), a good imperial method of controlling the crowd: “the crowd grew very still, and a deep, low, happy sigh, as of people who see the theatre curtain go up at last, breathed from innumerable throats. They were going to have their bit of fun after all”.
Another passage, which demonstrates Orwell’s adherence to imperial values, refers to his behavior and attitude towards the locals:  “For at that moment, with the crowd watching me, I was not afraid in the ordinary sense, as I would have been if I had been alone. A white man mustn’t be frightened in front of “natives”; and so, in general, he isn’t frightened”. An excellent evidence of the fact, that Orwell considered himself as the representative of a privileged, stronger, more developed race – the inevitable white man, previously described by Jack London....
ditionally, he hated to perform cruel duties: “The wretched prisoners huddling in the stinking cages of the lock-ups, the grey, cowed faces of the long-term convicts, the scarred buttocks of the men who had been bogged with bamboos – all these oppressed me with an intolerable sense of guilt”. Afterwards he used to say that had always hated the imperialism and that possessing absolute power had a negative effect on him. But is it really so? The essay contains a lot of obvious evidence of Orwell’s negative attitude towards imperialism: “…at that time I had already made up my mind that imperialism was an evil thing…”, “…I was all for the Burmese and all against their oppressors, the British…”, “…I thought of the British Raj as an unbreakable tyranny…”. However, Orwell was a representative of the Empire, and this fact made him hate the Burmese: “…the greatest joy in the world would be to drive a bayonet into a Buddhist priest’s guts”. Orwell calls these feelings “by-products of imperialism”. By these words Orwell explains his position, in an attempt to absolve himself and draw a border between his personality and the duties he had to perform. This looks a little hypocritical, considering the following passages. Orwell writes: “I did not want to shoot the elephant… It seemed to me that it would be murder to shoot him”. The moment of making decision to kill is not described. Orwell says briefly: “I had got to act quickly”. It means that despite all his speculations “want/don’t want”, the decision and plan were already in his head. In fact, it was not obligatory to kill it. There are other measures. But the crowd wanted this elephant dead. The crowd wanted spectacle and food. And Orwell gave them what they wanted, ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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