Analysis Of George Orwell 's ' Shooting An Elephant ' Essay

Analysis Of George Orwell 's ' Shooting An Elephant ' Essay

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George Orwell, other wise known as Eric Arthur Blair, is a well known British author. He spent a total of five years as an officer to the India Imperial police. This experience led him to resign and later become an author. In Orwell 's Shooting an Elephant, he describes this experience with the use of multiple symbolic characters. He uses items such as the gun used to shoot the elephant, the town’s people that watch him, and even the elephant itself to hold a specific symbolic meaning.
One of the many symbolic elements in this piece is the gun. The gun symbolizes the power that the British Empire has over the Burmese people. Orwell states, “The Burmese population had no weapons and were quite helpless against it” (321). The fact that the British authorities in the city stand to be the only people that have any weapons or means of protection shows the power that the empire holds over these poor Burmese people. The gun also shows a bit of the oppression going on since the Burmese people can not even posses guns. Another symbol the gun holds is a sense of superiority for Orwell himself. He says, “I had no intention of shooting the elephant- I had merely sent for the rifle to defend myself if necessary” (322). This statement shows that he did not kill the elephant to help or protect the Burmese people, he simply did it to show a sense of power and superiority to the people and in turn get praise from them.
In addition to the gun Orwell uses the crowd of town’s people that follow him throughout the story as a symbolic character. These people symbolise peer pressure, hatred, and an aspiration for acceptance. Orwell says “The people expected it of me and I had to do it; I could feel their two thousand wills pressuring ...


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...the time. The final representation that the elephant holds is the power of the British Empire. Orwell describes “It had already destroyed somebody’s bamboo hut, killed a cow and raided some fruit-stalls..” (321). This statement shows how the elephant is powerful and how it raids the town. Like the elephant the empire holds tremendous power over the Burmese and raids Burma with oppression and imperialism.
As you can see, when reading, the content is not always as it seems on the surface. Just as Orwell did with the gun, Burmese people, and the elephant writers often use elements in a piece that hold a much greater symbolic meaning behind them. Orwell exercises his use of symbolism thoroughly throughout Shooting an Elephant. He was able to express the power of the British Empire, the agony the Burmese is going through, and much more with his use of symbolism.

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