Subliminal Imperialism Essay

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Subliminal Imperialism George Orwell immediately opens Shooting An Elephant by first laying down his perspective on British Imperialism. He states that it is corrupt and that he is against the British oppressors. Although a British officer himself at the time in Burma, he feels a obligated hatred and guilt towards not only himself, but his empire, and the “evil-spirited little beasts,” that inhabit it. Because of this, Orwell burdens only hostile feelings toward the British, Imperialism, and Britain's supposed justification for their actions in taking over Burma.In the essay he writes not only of his personal experience and the elephant, but also how metaphorical the experience is to Imperialism. The mood of the piece is set when Orwell renders the setting as a “cloudy, stuffy morning at the beginnings of the rains.” His tone of speech in turn is thought to be weak and discomforting. He established the fact that his character is weak when the Burma people are introduced and how they laugh and mock him, the British officer. The tension of discovering the elephant is a metaphor itself showing the destructive power of imperialism: the elephant’s rampaging spree of destruction and even killing a man whom Orwell described to have been in pain. Finally finding the elephant, Orwell states “I knew with perfect certainty that I ought not to shoot him.” Laying eyes upon the followers shadowing him, he changes his stance to “…but I did not want to shoot the elephant.” This is when Orwell begins to state how immoral and wrong it was to shoot the elephant. Despite many reasons to not shoot the elephant, such as how it’s more valuable alive rather than dead, or his state of being a “poor shot,” he end up falling into the expectations of the Burma people. Going against his own will and moral belief Orwell decides to end the elephants life. Orwell uses the death of the elephant
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