Example Of The Upshot Of Imperialism In George Orwell’s “Shooting An Elephant” Essay
George Orwell is known for his story entitled, “Shooting an Elephant”. This fictional story took place in Lower Burma, where the narrator (Orwell) is the sub-divisional police officer of a town, wherein the inhabitants felt bitter against the Europeans. People were already questioning the reason why the British had to stay in their land. As a police officer who is young and ill-educated, Orwell has accepted that Imperialism was an “evil thing”. He thought of leaving his job, since he gathered that he was “all for the Burmese and all against their oppressors, the British” (Orwell 285). His job was centered on doing things that was against his wishes, for it was against the natives who, for Orwell, are being oppressed.
In George Orwell’s short narrative story, it appears that Imperialism can act as a system of protection for the natives. Although they may not be aware of it, it shows in the story that Orwell was the one who tried to protect the natives against the elephant that broke its chain and escaped. It was Orwell whom the people asked for help, as the natives had no weapon, and the elephant had already “destroyed somebody’s bamboo hut, killed a cow and raided some fruit-stalls and devoured the stock” (Orwell 286). It appears that Imperialism may also provide people with the protection and shield that they need in times of trouble.
Secondly, the short story seemed to profess that with Imperialism, people expect the oppressors to have a certain degree of assistance and protection, and to have a sense of responsibility in making sure that the natives are being cared for and protected. As seen in the story, when Orwell came while holding a rifle and went back to the place of the elephant, it was said that “the whole population of the quarter flocked out of the houses and followed” (Orwell 287). In times of trouble, the oppressors may become the people’s hero if they do everything they can to protect people and make sure they are safe and far from danger.
Thirdly, it also seemed to profess that with Imperialism, the oppressors may have no desire of killing animals or destroying things, but they may end up doing it, as a way of protecting themselves. Orwell did not want to kill the elephant, but he ended up killing it because the people expected it, even if the big animal was not dangerous. As it says:
And at that distance, peacefully eating, the elephant looked no more dangerous than a cow. I thought then and I think now that his attack of “must” was already passing off; in which case he would merely wander harmlessly about until the mahout came back and caught him. (Orwell 287-288)
In Imperialism, the upshot focuses on the oppressors doing what was expected of them, even if it was not their true intention to do so. Oppressors do it because the people—both the government and the natives—expect them to do it, whether or not they prefer it.
There are three upshots of Imperialism, as reflected in the story of George Orwell. First is the effect of providing protection for the people. Second is that, the Imperialists are more likely to have a sense of responsibility for the people. Third is that, the Imperialists are sanctioned to things that are against their wishes, but would fulfill it for the sake of their duty and the expectations of both the government and the population. From these, it is evident that Imperialism may also provide some benefits to the oppressed. Although they may be oppressed at times, for most of the times—especially during trouble—they would have someone to protect them or assist them, which gives a lot of benefits. Like Orwell, there are Imperialists who are not really “oppressors” but have hearts that are one with the people.
Orwell, George. Shooting an Elephant. United Kingdom: Penguin Classic, 2009.
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