Grade 10 English - King vs Orwell Essays

1646 Words Dec 19th, 2012 7 Pages
Many Colours, One World , One Approach to Injustice

The essays “Shooting an Elephant” by George Orwell and the "Letter From Birmingham Jail” by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. share several similarities, particularly in terms of the authors' recognition of injustice in their respective communities. There are striking similarities between their causes despite Orwell being of British descent and part of the caucasian majority while Dr. King was from the United States of America and was part of the coloured minority. Both essays helped emphasize the struggle and injustices in society, regardless of the cultural differences between the authors and the nearly thirty year gap between their publications. Both men were influential civil rights
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Dr. King predicted that if not for the philosophy of non-violence, the streets of the South would have been flowing with blood. Orwell spoke about how his hate was focussed on the empire itself and was very much aligned with Dr. King's disappointment and lost faith in the citizens and the government of the United States of America. Orwell also spoke about the possibility of violence when he referred to the Burmese as "evil spirited little beasts" (Orwell) and he explained that his "greatest joy in the world would be to drive a bayonet into a Buddhist priest's guts"(Orwell). Orwell, it seems, had reached a similar conclusion a world apart and thirty years ahead of King when he wrote that "when the white man turns tryant it is his own freedom that he destroys" (Orwell). These very words could have come directly from King's "Letter From Birmingham Jail" and appear to apply to the situation the United States was entering into with respect to its treatment of the coloured population.
In Orwell’s paper “Shooting an Elephant” the author also focuses on the emotional conflict the narrator encounters when facing the elephant and when considering the possibility of shooting it. Orwell's narrator is torn by the pressure from the local people to kill the animal because he feels the elephant is a harmless creature. What is fascinating is that Orwell showed a lack of courage and he did what he felt was morally wrong; he shot the elephant because he didn't want to

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