Imperialism In George Orwell's Shooting An Elephant

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“Shooting An Elephant,” George Orwell’s famously anti-imperialist essay, brings to light the complicated idea regarding the malleability of one’s conscience and questions the stability of a moral code. He begins the essay by recounting his time in Burma as a British officer, and how his hatred of imperialism was becoming overshadowed by the Burmese peoples’ distaste for his fellow colonizers and him. He wished to gain the trust and respect of these people in order to put this cognitive dissonance at rest, so that he no longer has to be a part of a system he dislikes. Orwell’s feelings towards the Burmese quickly become a microcosm for an even broader idea and problem: that an imperialist nation, such as Great Britain, would demand respect from a people that have both no interest in, as well as an intense hatred towards a group that is unwanted …show more content…
Roland Barthes within his essay “The World Of Wrestling” does not discuss the idea of renouncing morals, but instead provides a lens in which one can see another perspective on how important Orwell’s actions for and against imperialism were. “The World of Wrestling” focuses on Barthes’ idea that, “…the function of the wrestler is not to win; it is to go exactly through the motions which are expected of him,” (Barthes 171). Thus, Orwell quickly becomes a Barthesian wrestler, whose job is not to win the respect of the Burmese but instead follow the orders of imperialism. He stands in the center of the ring, surrounded by people demanding a “spectacle of excess” (Barthes 170), and is placed into a paradoxical problem that has no solution; he either stands for a his morals and faces isolation or does what Barthes believes makes for good entertainment: exactly what is expected of him. And, eventually, Orwell gives in, for wrestlers fight and Orwell shoots for the same reason: they know of nothing

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