Essay about True Power in "Shooting an Elephant" by George Orwell

Essay about True Power in "Shooting an Elephant" by George Orwell

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The quest for power is one which has been etched into the minds of men throughout history. However, it can be said that true power is not a result of one’s actions but comes from the following one’s own beliefs without being influenced by others. This principle sets up the story for Shooting an Elephant by George Orwell. The protagonist, Orwell himself, is a sub divisional police officer in Burma, a British colony. Orwell must try to find and use his inner power when he is faced with the decision of whether or not to kill an elephant which has ravaged the Burman’s homes. The state of power established through the imperialistic backdrop show that Orwell, as a colonist, should be in control. As well, the perspective and ideas given by Orwell show his true character and lessen the overall power set up for him. Lastly, the symbols shown are representations of traditional forms of power, but take on different implications in the story. In Shooting an Elephant, George Orwell uses setting, characterization and symbols to show that true power comes from following the dictates of one’s conscience.
The state of power established through the imperialistic backdrop show that Orwell should have control over the Burmese. Orwell is a British colonial officer in Burma, which is under the control of the British, and because of this he should have authority and control over the Burmans. The presence of the empire is established when Orwell explains that, “with one part of my mind I thought of the British Raj as an unbreakable tyranny...upon the will of the prostrate people; with another part I thought that the greatest joy in the world would be to drive a bayonet into a Buddhist priest’s gut.” (144) This ideal imperialistic circumstance, where ...


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...ration of any power Orwell possessed.
George Orwell uses setting, characterization and symbols to show that true power come from following the dictates of one’s conscience. The state of power established through the imperialistic backdrop show that Orwell should have control over the Burmese. Also, the perspective and ideas given by Orwell show his true character and lessens the overall power set up for him. Lastly, the symbols Orwell uses show representation of traditional forms of power, but take on different implications in the story. These points come together to prove that power exists within one’s self and not through one’s position, conquests or by the items they possess. In the end, it can be said that man’s journey for power will be a continuous struggle until the end of time but that in order at attain power, one must learn to listen to one’s conscience.

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