Shooting an Elephant

Shooting an Elephant
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  •                             Shooting an Elephant                                      By: George Orwell
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  • The constant battle between society and an individual's ability to choose have always been in competition with one another. Throughout history, the changing ideals of society have similarly altered the mindset of individuals, pushing one to become engulfed in the never-ending spiral of oppression. Persecution, whether mental or physical, has continued to be seen throughout the past, time and time again; from slavery in America to the imperialism of the British Empire over several colonies. In the short story, Shooting an Elephant, the author, George Orwell, argues that the mental pressure society imposes on individuals causes them to disregard their morality and human kindness, focusing on doing what is expected of them rather than what is ethical; in turn, leading to their their downfall, sacrificing their free will. As he shares his experiences with the Burmese people and a musty elephant he states, “Here was I,[...] standing in front of the unarmed native crowd- seemingly the leading actor of the piece; but in reality I was only an absurd puppet pushed to and fro by the will of those yellow faces behind me” (Orwell 1257).  Solely because he felt the pressure of society, he committed an act he never thought he would, in efforts to please the crowd whose nature was to ridicule him. Knowing he could gain their acceptance by shooting an elephant, he went through with the act, although his conscious and ideals were against it. To not look a fool and gain more hate than already inflicted on him, he gave up his will to the people, letting them control his acts. The power society holds on an individual, works relentlessly in efforts to maintain influence over the people through the control and domination of their thoughts and minds. In essence, the overwhelming existence of mental persecution in society creates a negative trend of abandoning moral values and focusing on the praise of a society programmed to oppress humans and build up a false sense of pride and accomplishment.
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