Imperialism In George Orwell's How To Shoot An Elephant

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George Orwell’s essay “How to Shoot an Elephant” can be seen as a commentary and critique about imperialism in which the elephant is a metaphor for the colonized people and the British police officer is the colonizer in colonial Burma. Orwell’s essay helped readers to see that imperialism and empires are not clear cut and black and white as it seems to be, there are shades of grey, muddled, and a middleman between the two sides of the colonized and the colonizer. Orwell critiques about empire is all explained and commented in his essay. One of his critiques is that being a conqueror does not mean the person will have total control over his subjects or colonists. While the narrator has higher authority and military supremacy, he is still powerless …show more content…
Because he was placed in front of a crowd of nearly two thousand people, he is forced to take on a performative persona that makes him act counter to every reasonable impulse he has. This shows in the way that the conquered control the conqueror in different way through psychological and social factors showing that these factors have more power to control a man. The narrator explained if he does not shoot the elephant “the crowd would laugh at me. And my whole life, every white man’s life in the East, was one long struggle to not be laugh at” and stated his expectations was “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” (Orwell, 1936, 3). This shows how Orwell explains the paradox of colonialism that although limiting the freedoms of others, the British had actually forced themselves to adopt a limited, exaggerated role in order to maintain their hold on authority, limiting their freedom sharply. His desire to not be laughed at trumps his other motivation to not shoot the elephant and that he is more afraid of humiliation than physical harm and also glad that an innocent person died to justify his action so that he would not have to deal with the guilt of shooting the …show more content…
Comparing with Franz Fanon’s work, his viewpoint and perspective seems more neutral while Fanon’s perspective is siding with the colonized people stating how the people will benefit from decolonization where they can be free and “it focuses on and fundamentally alters being… It infuses a new rhythm, specific to a generation of men, with a new language, and a new humanity” (Fanon, 1961, 2). Fanon’s work is so distinct and separate while Orwell’s work of the colonized and the colonizer are intimately weaved and connected together. Fanon believes decolonization should be violent because colonization itself was violent where the oppressed and the colonized should stand up for themselves. Orwell, however, shows that the Burmese people although do not have weapons still are able to control the colonizer in their own ways that do not cross the line such as using psychological and social factors to pressure him not knowing they have this power, but unintentionally wielding it. One similarity both writers agree is that the colonized are seen as animals by the colonizers. Fanon sees the colonial world a Manichean world that

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