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Shooting and Elephant by George Orwell
Transcript of Shooting and Elephant by George Orwell
http://www.orwell.ru/library/books/htm_file/se The setting of the story “Shooting an Elephant” by George Orwell takes place in a British colony city called Moulmein, located in Lower Burma, in the 1920s. Thesis Statement: Supporting Claims: Setting British imperialism Setting supports theme Discomfort with the place The British imperialism was present in Burma while the narrator was a police officer there. The Britons dominated and oppressed the economy, politics, and social life of Burma and other near conquered lands in 1920s. "With one part of my mind I thought of the British Raj as an unbreakable tyranny, as something clamped down, in saecula saeculorum, upon the will of prostrate peoples; with another part I thought that the greatest joy in the world would be to drive a bayonet into a Buddhist priest’s guts. Feelings like these are the normal by-products of imperialism; ask any Anglo-Indian official, if you can catch him off duty." "In a job like that you see the dirty work of Empire at close quarters." "[...] I was all for the Burmese and all against their oppressors, the British." The setting supports directly the theme; Moulmein in 1920s was a British colony that brings us the theme of imperialism, for example. If the setting had been different it probably would not even have happened. The narrator tries to understand the system of his society and his time. "It was a tiny incident in itself, but it gave me a better glimpse than I had had before of the real nature of imperialism – the real motives for which despotic governments act." The way the narrator describes the place where the elephant was found reflects a discomfort. This fact is present also because a large number of people who were there, hated him. "[…] in the quarter where the elephant had been seen. It was a very poor quarter, a labyrinth of squalid bamboo huts thatched with palm leaf, winding all over a steep hillside. I remember that it was a cloudy, stuffy morning at the beginning of the rains." Supporting Claims: Thesis Statement: Thesis Statement: The main character External conflicts Internal conflicts Wisdom Insight Pressure The truth Judgments Doubts The story is told by a consistent and first-person narrator with a struggling conscience who was engaged in the events, and was able to acquire insight and wisdom from those adventures although he also had a Struggling conscience. The fact that Orwell actually shoots the elephant gives the reader an uncomfortable feeling since the reader is led to believe that Orwell was going to spare the animal but on the other hand, the elephant symbolizes freedom and the victims of imperialism. "Aiming for the location of the elephant's brain (inaccurately, as he later learns) he fires a shot that brings it to its knees." Reflectively, the narrator realizes that being forced to impose strict laws and to shoot the elephant--he states his feelings against the act, but submits after comprehending he "had got to shoot the elephant" - it's more of a philosophical problem. "For it is the condition of his rule that he shall spend his life in trying to impress the ‘natives’, and so in every crisis he has got to do what the ‘natives’ expect of him. He wears a mask, and his face grows to fit it. I had got to shoot the elephant. I had committed myself to doing it when I sent for the rifle." The narrator hates the empire and "all for the Burmese and all against the British.". But as county natives treats him badly he feels less guilty about doing the same do them. In the end our narrator is stuck between his duties and his convictions and he in on a vicious circle from which it seen to be hard to get out from. "Theoretically — and secretly, of course — I was all for the Burmese and all against their oppressors, the British. As for the job I was doing, I hated it more bitterly than I can perhaps make clear. In a job like that you see the dirty work of Empire at close quarters." In the story “Shooting an elephant” by George Orwell, the main character is the narrator who experiences external and internal conflicts. The narrator is a Young Englishman serving as a police officer in Burma in the 1920s, when Burma was part of British-controlled India. He strongly opposes the oppressive British rule of Burma and the rest of India. At the same time, he resents the ridicule he receives from the natives, who are unaware that he is on their side politically. The narrator's views represent those of the author, George Orwell. "I was sub-divisional police officer of the town, and in an aimless, petty kind of way anti-European feeling was very bitter." "As a police officer I was an obvious target and was baited whenever it seemed safe to do so." The narrator thinks that the British Empire’s occupation of Burma is unjust and also, another conflict is with the Burmese because of their mockery of him as a representative of the British Empire. But Orwell did not want to look like a fool in the eyes of the natives. "For at that time I had already made up my mind that imperialism was an evil thing and the sooner I chucked up my job and got out of it the better." "Theoretically — and secretly, of course — I was all for the Burmese and all against their oppressors, the British." "I often wondered whether any of the others grasped that I had done it solely to avoid looking a fool." Here there is a conflict with himself in his fight with his conscience and his personal dilemmas. So, he had to choose combat between his ideas and his emotions. "I had no intention of shooting the elephant — I had merely sent for the rifle to defend myself if necessary — and it is always unnerving to have a crowd following you." "Here was I, the white man with his gun, standing in front of the unarmed native crowd — seemingly the leading actor of the piece;" "And suddenly I realized that I should have to shoot the elephant after all." George Orwell blames the British rage and the Burmese reaction for his problems. He wants to give the reader the consciousness of the self-destruction caused by the system of government. Orwell makes himself clear when say that he is unhappy with his job. The story leads us to deduce that the narrator become more objective and realistic as time passed. "Theoretically — and secretly, of course — I was all for the Burmese and all against their oppressors, the British. As for the job I was doing, I hated it more bitterly than I can perhaps make clear. In a job like that you see the dirty work of Empire at close quarters." The author seems to accept that he had to deal with all the judgments that he suffered. The Burmese would not change, the British would not change too. "For at that moment, with the crowd watching me, I was not afraid in the ordinary sense, as I would have been if I had been alone. A white man mustn't be frightened in front of ‘natives’; and so, in general, he isn't frightened." "Afterwards, of course, there were endless discussions about the shooting of the elephant. The owner was furious, but he was only an Indian and could do nothing. Besides, legally I had done the right thing, for a mad elephant has to be killed, like a mad dog, if its owner fails to control it. Among the Europeans opinion was divided." Orwell knew he could not change what had happened, but his doubts consumed him. Presentation Group:
Julia Dutra, Ivy Amaral, Luiza de Leon, Nathana Floriani, Rodrigo Costa Curiosities about vocabulary Sahib:
Master, sir. Indians and Burmans used the word when addressing an Englishman. Bazaar:
Marketplace on a street with walk-in shops and outdoor stalls. Coolie:
Unskilled laborer. Coringhee:
From or having to do with the town of Coringa, India. It is in the state of Andhra Pradesh in the southeastern part of the country. Dravidian:
Lower-caste Indian who speaks his own language, Dravidian. Imperialism:
Policy of controlling weak or underdeveloped countries for economic, political, and military purposes. In saecula saeculorum:
Latin for in this age and for all ages; forever; for eternity; until the end of the world. Mahout:
Skilled elephant trainer and handler. Raj, British:
British government rule in India, of which Burma was a part; the period when the British government ruled India.