Theme Of Symbolism In Shooting An Elephant

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Symbolism and Imperialism 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 its chains. This oppression of the Burmese is shown by them giving Orwell a difficult time and abusing him. Orwell describes this as a very difficult…show more content…
Orwell describes the coolie as flattened, beat, and disfigured with mud while at the same time making it clear that he died agonizingly. Orwell, clearly comparing the same defeat to Burma, notes “His face was coated with mud, the eyes wide open, the teeth bared and grinning with an expression of unendurable agony” (325). Furthermore, the symbol of the dead coolie serves as a martyr for Orwell resigning to ask for a gun in case he, too, gets trampled. This sets forth the action of Orwell having to shoot the elephant, as this begins to acquire the crowd’s attention. Orwell later realizes “I had got to shoot the elephant. I had committed myself to doing it when I sent for the rifle”
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