Themes And Symbolism In George Orwell's Shooting An Elephant

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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
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Immediately upon seeing the elephant, Orwell makes it clear that it would be in the wrong to shoot. By this point, however, a large crowd of Burmese are pointedly watching and waiting for action to be taken. When Orwell does shoot the elephant it is merely because of this expectation. Orwell emphasizes this by writing, "And it was at this moment, as I stood there with the rifle in my hands, that I first grasped the hollowness, the futility of the white man 's dominion in the East. Here was I, the white man with his gun, standing in front of the unarmed native crowd – seemingly the leading actor of the piece; but in reality I was only an absurd puppet pushed to and fro by the will of those yellow faces behind" (Orwell, 327). After he shoots the elephant, the elephant proceeds to die slowly and torturously mainly due to Orwell 's lack of 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
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