Shooting An Elephant

Shooting An Elephant

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  • Shoot the elephant!
  • Shoot it! Shoot it!
  • Orwell argues that sometimes, the roles of oppressed and oppressor are reversed. With both the intents to control and impress, the oppressor falls under the influence of those he rules over as he is constantly forced into doing things that they expect of him.
  • He writes,  “The people expected it of me and I had got to do it; I could feel their two thousand wills pressing me forward, irresistibly...Here was I, the white man with his gun, standing in front of the native crowd--seemingly the leading actor of the piece; but in reality I was only an absurd puppet pushed to and fro by the yellow faces behind” (Orwell 122-127).
  • The supposed “oppressor”, the officer of the British Empire, ended up being influenced by those he was supposed to control. Orwell was expected to behave and conduct himself a certain way, and by doing so he could both assert his dominance and gain their respect and compliance. The crowd pressured him to kill the elephant, and he did so, even though he didn’t want to. The irony behind this is that being an authority figure, he was called upon to manage the elephant and to command the Burmese to assist him, find safety, etc, but when it came down to decision making, it was really the Burmese who commanded him, albeit silently.
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