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Pride and Power in George Orwell's "Shooting an Elephant" and "A Hanging"

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Every writer has that one special quirk that keeps readers coming back for more. Whether it is the humor or 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.
One of Orwell’s distinctive characteristics is his emphasis of his emotional response to life and death in every situation. Orwell engages readers in his pieces because they feel that they can sit back and imagine what is going on in every situation through the narrator’s eyes. Every sentence is a new description that touches the audience’s emotions. In “A Hanging,” Orwell describes the death sentence scene by stating, “gripping the prisoner more closely than ever, they half led, half pushed him to the gallows and helped him clumsily up the ladder. Then the hangman climbed up and fixed the rope round the prisoner’s neck” (Orwell: A Hanging). Orwell’s perspective on the scene was that the prisoner was slowly walking to his death in a torturous way. He focuses on the sadness he feels versus other people’s perspectives and feelings. It seems that Orwell does not take death easily, so he uses evocative words to describe the trauma through his eyes. In “Shooting an Elephant,”Orwell’s point of view is that killing the elephant will not only hurt the animal, but it will destroy his own pride as a reluctant shooter. He looks at the big picture, but he also identifies with the subj...


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... inhumane act he just committed. Orwell gives into his pride too much when he conforms to the group, so now he must live with that guilt. Orwell’s pride and how it is destroyed is often a focus in his writing. The strength to move on is the driving force behind his pride.
Based on the two essays, George Orwell is a vivid writer who uses a unique point of view and strong themes of pride and role playing to convey his messages. His writings are easy to pick out because of the strengths of these messages. Just like politicians in government, people with power turn corrupt to stay in power and keep their reputations. Anyone who takes on power must be prepared to live with the consequences of his actions. Orwell knows this challenge well and conveys this principle in his writing. After all, his narration is based on real life experiences and not fictional fantasies.



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