Shooting an Elephant

Shooting an Elephant
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  • When people are under pressure, they will eventually have to release their emotions, often lashing out on other people. Humans tend to desire control over situations and when they unable to manage their own lives, they seek control in other aspects. After witnessing the tyranny of the British Imperialism, George Orwell sacrifices his decent living standards to live with the poor in order to experience and understand unemployment, poverty, and social inequality. In his essay “Shooting an Elephant,” Orwell argues that victims of imperialism tend to seek control; those subjected under oppression will try to inflict their own control on others, opposing their natural tendencies to comply with a superior figure.
  • As a police officer for the British government, he endured rude behavior from the Burmese, who he supposedly had authority over. Orwell saw them become “evil-spirited little beasts who tried to make [his] job impossible,” (Orwell 29). The Burmese, who suffer under British tyranny, seek to act out their own form of oppression on others. Hence, after a certain point of enduring the despotism, the Burmese attempt to take control over Owell by harassing, tormenting, and hurling insults at him. Although Owell holds authority over the Burmese, he becomes impotent and vulnerable to the abuse of the Burmese. Thus indicating that after people experience oppression, they show signs of their misery through their desire to control others and actions beyond their normal behavior.
  • Evidently, people will inevitably release their emotions in some form. In a similar way, the elephant in his essay had gone must after years in captivity. All beings should be entitled to control their own lives. Subjecting anyone under oppression goes against the natural law where everyone is equal. Orwell uses this essay to warn the oppressors of the immorality of British imperialism and its effects on people. He is understanding of the Burmese feeling of resentment and desire to attack him.
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