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True Power in "Shooting an Elephant" by George Orwell Essay

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6 Pages

The quest for power is one which has been etched into the minds of men throughout history. However, it can be said that true power is not a result of one’s actions but comes from the following one’s own beliefs without being influenced by others. This principle sets up the story for Shooting an Elephant by George Orwell. The protagonist, Orwell himself, is a sub divisional police officer in Burma, a British colony. Orwell must try to find and use his inner power when he is faced with the decision of whether or not to kill an elephant which has ravaged the Burman’s homes. The state of power established through the imperialistic backdrop show that Orwell, as a colonist, should be in control. As well, the perspective and ideas given by Orwell

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However, any power given to him through the imperialistic setting is lost, because Orwell exists as a part of a minority in Burma. With this dilemma, Orwell notices the difficulties that come with an authoritative figure in a foreign country as, “[Orwell] was hated by a large number of people- the only time in my life that I have been important enough for this to happen to me.” (144) Due to this hatred, Orwell finds his job to impose order futile because the Burmese people seem to have a tighter grasp on Orwell than Orwell himself. The Burmans appear to be enforcing their power over Orwell through their majority and he experiences this when, “A nimble Burman tripped me up on the football field and the referee (another Burman) looked the other way.” (144) These acts that the Burmans commit show that power appears to exist in the hands of the Burmese majority rather than Orwell. By placing a colonist within a colony, the writer establishes the feeling that power should lie in the hand of the colonist. However, this concept is shattered because Orwell possesses no power though the colonial setting because of the fact that the Burmese appear to be in control. The lack of power present in the surroundings further enforces the fact that true power cannot come from one’s conquest or authority but only from within.
The perspective and ideas given by Orwell show his true character and lessens the overall power set up for him. Although Orwell is a

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    the characters, most authors carry their quirks from story to story. In “Shooting an Elephant,” George Orwell describes his experience of shooting an elephant. In “A Hanging,” he describes the emotions that run through him as he watches the hanging of a prisoner. Both essays have similar key ideas that identify Orwell as a writer. The results of pride and power contribute to the themes that connect his essays and identify Orwell as a descriptive writer.
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    In his essay Shooting an Elephant, George Orwell explains how the controlling authorities in a hostile country are not controlling the country’s population but are in fact a mere tool of the populous. Orwell’s experience with the elephant provided the insight for his essay, and gives a clear example of the control the natives have over the authorities.
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    appeared normal as usual. I was only in the kitchen for five minutes when I heard my brothers screaming my name. I rushed over to the screams which led to my room. My brother’s faces were pale with fright while they waited outside my room door. It was as Orwell once mentioned, “Evidently there was something that the children ought not to have seen” (pg. 231). They pointed towards the birdcage and I immediately started thinking if I’d forgotten to feed the birds. While I gently removed the towel that I placed…

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  • The Use of Metaphors in Shooting an Elephant by George Orwell

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    The Use of Metaphors in Shooting an Elephant by George Orwell

    In the essay ?Shooting an Elephant? by George Orwell, the author uses metaphors to represent his feelings on imperialism, the internal conflict between his personal morals, and his duty to his country. Orwell demonstrates his perspectives and feelings about imperialism.and its effects on his duty to the white man?s reputation. He seemingly blends his opinions and subjects into one, making the style of this essay generally very simple…

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  • An Exploration of British Injustice in Shooting an Elephant by George Orwell

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    impact on those in power. The way Orwell used the words for describing the scene of shooting the elephant, his aim was to get the reader’s mind to understand the injustice of Britain’s rule over the natives. While Shooting an Elephant explored Imperialism explicitly, it implicitly explores the strong power that social pressure can have over the decisions one makes.
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  • Analytical Summary Shooting an Elephant by George Orwell Essay

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    Analytical Summary Shooting an Elephant
    Shooting an Elephant, written by George Orwell, is a short autobiographical essay about an incident that occurred during the time of his service as a police officer in Burma. The essay is centered around an event in which Orwell was forced to shoot an elephant against his own wishes. Using this episode which resulted in the clash between his own personal beliefs and the expectations of those around him, Orwell sends a message that imperialism is a lose-lose…

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  • Shooting an Elephant by George Orwell, Brief Description of Words and Symbols

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    the beginning of this essay Orwell’s purpose was never to shoot the elephant. In paragraph 3, lines eight through nine he explains not wanting to shoot it and speaks about bringing the gun to give the elephant a good fright. Leaving the gun at home or bringing the gun would have made no difference to what happened at the end. The gun was of little use, the main gun was not even his own but the riffle.
    2. Orwell shot the elephant not to save the people in the village but for his own benefits. Fearing…

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  • Essay about Shooting an Elephant by George Orwell

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    Shooting an Elephant by George Orwell

    Few supervisors experience lack of respect and denunciation from workers because of their positions in a company. Supervisors take actions to preserve the image of authority before subordinates and from being ridiculed by their workers, even if the supervisors object these types of actions. The essay “Shooting an Elephant” relates to this situation. The author of this essay is George Orwell. The author talks about his work and personal experience that emphasizes…

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    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…

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  • Shooting an Elephant bye George Orwell

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    means a loss of dignity. George Orwell’s short story, “Shooting an Elephant”, is an ideal example. In the story, Orwell, the main character, works as a policeman in Burma in the 1930s for the British Empire. One day, an elephant tramples loose, and although Orwell has no intent on shooting the elephant, a mob of native Burmese pressures Orwell to shoot the elephant. He reluctantly acquiesces to prevent being humiliated. After that experience, Orwell writes “Shooting an Elephant” to demonstrate native…

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Shooting an Elephant: And Other Essays (Penguin Modern Classics) by [Orwell, George]

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‘Shooting an Elephant’ is Orwell’s searing and painfully honest account of his experience as a police officer in imperial Burma; killing an escaped elephant in front of a crowd ‘solely to avoid looking a fool’. The other masterly essays in this collection include classics such as ‘My Country Right or Left’, ‘How the Poor Die’ and ‘Such, Such were the Joys’, his memoir of the horrors of public school, as well as discussions of Shakespeare, sleeping rough, boys’ weeklies and a spirited defence of English cooking. Opinionated, uncompromising, provocative and hugely entertaining, all show Orwell’s unique ability to get to the heart of any subject.



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  • Part of the The Essential Orwell Boxed Set: Animal Farm, Down and Out in Paris and London, Nineteen Eighty-Four, Shooting an Elephant and Other Essays (Penguin Modern Classics) (4 Book Series)


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