The Ideas Of Leadership In George Orwell's Shooting An Elephant

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George Orwell’s short story “Shooting an Elephant” offers insight into the ideals of leadership within a foreign environment and how it is the majority who influence the leader, not the leader who influences the majority. In “Shooting an Elephant” George Orwell demonstrates the power that a crowd can have over an individual by manipulating their ego. In many ways everyone is sycophantic; it is part of human nature, and it is what causes many people to push away their morality when it is needed most. This is seen most strongly when the narrator, an English police officer, is emotionally pushed by the Burmese natives to shoot the elephant, at which point it has gone docile and would not have done much more harm, simply so that the natives …show more content…
Orwell was born in Burma during British Imperialism in 1903 and moved with his mother and sister back to England shortly after. Due to his sickliness, frailty, and bedwetting he was picked on by the children of his school, and was determined to be ungracious by his headmaster. Because of this “on some fundamental moral level, he was a failure” (Quinn). After such a harsh time attempting to achieve an education Orwell returned to Burma to work in the service of the Indian Imperial Police. Contributors Stade. et al. state in the Encyclopedia of British Writers that “[h]is Burmese experience taught him the evils of institutionalized force, and his writing reflects his mission to oppose all forms of oppression.” Orwell found the actions of his fellow Englishmen grotesque in the way they treated the natives and how the power perverted the actions of those in higher positions. On a secret level he supported the people of Burma and understood their hatred for the British. Orwell died in 1950 sharing his distaste for despotic governments through his works of writing. Overall Orwell’s mistreatment as a child allowed him to sympathize with the oppressed citizens who were considered by the government to be …show more content…
One of these countries that was sought after was the nation of Burma which was at political unrest at the time of Orwell 's writing. After several wars Burma was taken over and annexed by the British in 1886 to become part of the newly developed British India. According to the Canadian Friends of Burma “the British began to permeate the ancient Burmese culture with foreign elements.” These foreign elements included the introduction of industrialism. Along with industrialism came a great divide in the natives as a new more developed culture was thrust upon them. The new British government favored some of the groups over the others, thus only furthering the divide. While the economy grew, so did the resentment of the natives. This resentment is shown in the very beginning of “Shooting an Elephant” by George Orwell in which the narrator states that he “was hated by large number of people-the only time in [his] life that [he] had been important enough for this to happen.” While it was not his own fault he was a part of the guilty party and so was accused by the natives. This was a widespread occurrence during the time, and there is still to the present day strife all among the nation of Burma due to the public unrest started by the British even though they they gained their independence

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