…When The White Man Turns Tyrant It Is His Own Freedom That He Destroys:
A Critical Analysis Of George Orwell’s “Shooting An Elephant”
Killing an enemy chips away at your humanity. It is human nature to long for acceptance within one’s community. Often, one is forced to sacrifice bits of their morals to achieve this acceptance. In “Shooting an Elephant” Orwell illustrates this concept by recalling an incident that occurred during his time as a British police officer in Moulmein, Burma. The task he was set to accomplish while here was the dispatching of a renegade elephant. It is during this period of time that Orwell comes to terms with this inner struggle. Orwell communicates the story in first-person point of view. He blames British tyranny and Burmese reaction to it for his troubles, as the following paragraph indicates:
I was stuck between my hatred of the empire I served and my rage against the evil-spirited little beasts who tried to make my job impossible. With one part of my mind I thought of the British Raj as an unbreakable tyranny, as something clamped down, in saecula saeculorum, upon the will of prostrate peoples; with another part I thought that the greatest joy in the world would be to drive a bayonet into a Buddhist priest 's guts. Feelings like these are the normal by-products of imperialism; ask any Anglo-Indian official, if you can catch him off duty.
Orwell conveys his inner turmoil clearly through his eloquent use of alliteration, symbolism, and imagery.
Orwell’s essay has quite a number of instances of alliteration. Some of them are as follows:
“Yellow faces of young men that met me everywhere”
“Cowed faces of the long-term convicts”
“I marched down the hill, looking and feeling a fool”
“They did not li...
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...led out of him like red velvet”, “the tortured breathing continued without a pause.”, and “he was dying, very slowly and in great agony” and such ghastly images tell of the tragedies of imperialism. Through such use of imagery, Orwell is able to plant a powerful political message in the minds of the audience. The text is also heavily interlaced with auditory images like “shouting excitedly” “jeering” “grinning” “devilish roar of glee” “trumpeted” “breathing rhythmically with long rattling gasps” and “the tortured gasps continued as steadily as the ticking of a clock”. The sentence “He was tearing up bunches of grass, beating them against his knees to clean them and stuffing them in his mouth” paints the image of a majestic, peaceful creature.
In conclusion, it is through the expert use of literary devices that Orwell delivers his powerful message of anti-colonialism.
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