Shooting an Elephant

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  • Christine Vu Reina Lalisan Stultz AP Lang; Per. 3 16 March 2018
  • Throughout the early 18th and 19th century, British imperialism ruled most of the world with colonies throughout the globe under their control exploiting their natural resources and raw materials, a historic representation of oppression transversing through time as long as history can document.  In the year of 1922, George Orwell, a British novelist, signed up for the Indian Imperial Police in Burma, a British colony, in which he serves for 5 years there as an inexperienced officer at the age of 19. In the short story, “Shooting an Elephant” by George Orwell, Orwell argues that the pressure of society, such as fear of humiliation can drive individuals to do things or act in a manner that they do not want to do which demonstrates the power and influence that fear, as a form of oppression, has on one’s life.  As Orwell was about to shoot the elephant on the loose, he realized that: “...I was only an absurd puppet pushed to and fro by the will of those yellow faces behind” (Orwell 4). Orwell describes his purpose serving as a soldier for the British imperialistic rule where he was being controlled by society who oppressed him into doing immoral actions.  The oppression Orwell endures, results in him in shooting an elephant against his free will, therefore showing the effects of humiliation on an individual at the cost of their dignity and pride. The fear of humiliation can be seen in modern daily life as this mindset is perpetuated throughout time, whether in the 18th or 21st century, one is always subjected to this societal pressure leading one to realize that oppression will always exist to among the victims, but is recycled within society through the silence of bystanders.
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