Shooting an Elephant Analysis

447 Words2 Pages
In “Shooting an Elephant”, George Orwell contrasts agency with submission through metaphors, passive voice, and symbolism, proving that one is never fully in control and there will always be some overriding power. Metaphors of power and destruction contribute to Orwell’s comprehension of irrevocable submission. Orwell begins to describe the damage the elephant has inflicted on the Burmese people and their homes; how they have no means to protect themselves and are “helpless against it” (¶ 3). Orwell is signifying the similarity between the detrimental elephant and the imperialistic force of Britain. More comparisons follow as Orwell picks up a gun and follows the elephant becoming the “conjurer” with the “magical rifle” (¶ 7). With the gun to shoot the elephant, Orwell becomes the most powerful person in the village and the Burmese submit to this power, begging to him to solve the problem, even though, before the dilemma with the elephant, they ignored him. Passive voice further explains the original power Orwell lacks over the Burmese. Before the elephant problem arises, Orwell describes how he “[is] hated” (¶ 1) by the Burmese population because he is a British officer. Ironically, when the elephant begins to terrorize the village, the Burmese turn to Orwell because he is the only one capable of fixing the dilemma. He speaks of being the leader of the people in this situation, “but in reality [he] [is] only an absurd puppet pushed to and fro by the will of [the] yellow faces” (¶ 7). His agency is really just a façade of his submission to the Burmese. Symbolism of Orwell’s gun and the dead Indian also promote the concept of his submission to the Burmese as a façade. Orwell takes out a small gun, hardly large enough to damage an elephant, but due to its powerful sound, he deems it “useful in terrorem” (¶ 3). The gun symbolizes the brute force of the British

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