Symbolism in "Shooting an Elephant"
George Orwell dramatically writes about his time in Burma as an Imperial Officer in his essay "Shooting an Elephant". He communicates in detail how he disagrees with the concept of imperialism but likewise dislikes the taunting Burmese community. Orwell goes on to recount the time an elephant rampages the village and how enlightening of an experience it was. Symbolism is a heavy orchestrator in this essay, with Orwell relating the concept of imperialism to several events such as the elephant 's rampage, the dead coolie, and the actual shooting of the elephant.
One of the first representatives of imperialism takes place with the elephant 's rampage. This happens when a chained up elephant has an attack of "must" and in turn rampages the village bazaar. Symbolically, the Burmese people became restless and acted out after being oppressed through imperialism – much like the elephant and it 's chains. This oppression of the Burmese people is shown by the Burmese giving Orwell a difficult time and abusing him.Orwell describes this as a very difficult time for him. "All I knew was that I was stuck between my hatred of the empire I served and my rage against the evil-spirited little beasts who tied to make my job impossible" (Orwell, 323). Another example of symbolism that Orwell provides is the elephant trampling through the village in the same way the British Imperial Army trampled through Burma. It 's sad to realize that Burma was just as helpless against the elephant 's destruction as they were against Britain 's. As Orwell sadly describes "The Burmese population had no weapons and were quite helpless against it" (Orwell, 324).
Another example of Orwell 's use of symbolism is the symbol of t...
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... experience killing large animals. Orwell clearly intends to make it difficult to read about the elephant 's death in an attempt to force the reader to grasp the barbarity of the situation. This barbarity is a symbol of the brutality of Britain 's imperialistic takeover of Burma. Afterward, the Burmese population take over the elephant by using all materials it can provide. This is also an example of how an oppressed state can lead to desperation.
Orwell 's essay is made up of many different parts and symbolism happened to stick out the most. He manages to symbolize the elephant 's rampage the dead coolie, and the shooting of the elephant all to the idea of imperialism. The entire scenario is especially sad because, as Orwell explains, he simply shot the elephant to avoid looking like a fool. Let us be glad that imperialism is not a standard of our current culture.
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