Analysis of the Relationship Between Orwell and the Burmese in “Shooting and Elephant”

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Analysis of the relationship between Orwell and the Burmese in “Shooting and Elephant” The relationship between Orwell and the Burmese illustrates a revealing parallel to the complex relationship between the oppressor and the oppressed created by imperialism. From the viewpoint of the oppressed, the relationship may appear simple through their unadulterated bitterness towards their oppressors and the abuse of rights and freedoms that comes along with being oppressed, yet when viewed from the perspective of a person who is a part of the ruling regime the interaction between them seems less one sided. The relationship between Orwell and the Burmese is a consequence of imperialism and is one of contempt, guilt, shifting power struggles, mixed emotions, contrasting viewpoints, and desperation. The Burmese were subjugated by the British, and, as part of that subjugation, were relegated to a lower class of subsistence: “because an elephant was worth more than any damn Coringhee coolie”. This, and the conflict leading up to their subjugation, created a climate of intense animosity towards the British that Orwell experienced first hand when he described “sneering yellow faces of young men that met me everywhere” and how he felt “hated by large number of people” and that he was “baited whenever it seemed safe to do so” by the Burmese people. These are all examples of how Orwell experienced the Burmese’ purveying and intense hostility towards their oppressors, and Orwell himself as a member of the British regime. The Burmese hated the British, but they also feared and respected their power; specifically the power of their “magical rifle”. Yet, despite that fear and respect, the weight of their sheer numbers and the indelible culture that surrounded the British and their powerful weapons was so profound that it determined the decision that Orwell made; the decision
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