Critical Study On George Orwell’s Essay Shooting An Elephant

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This Written Task is inspired by our class study of Part 4: Literature – Critical Study on George Orwell’s essay “Shooting an Elephant”. This task will analyze elements such as theme and the ethical stance or moral values of literary texts.

In class, we examined the impact of the British empire in colonized countries in the 20th century, namely Burma and India. As such, the texts we focused on include works by George Orwell as they provide a British man’s view into the expansion of the British rule. “Shooting an Elephant” portrays the thoughts and feelings of a British officer as he is pushed by onlookers to kill an elephant, where he feels that he is forced to commit something he does not want to do. By examining the ethical and moral stance portrayed in “Shooting an Elephant”, we discussed how authority and rule may not necessarily yield power to an individual, but it could rather be a shackle of which one feels pressured to act in a way that upholds expectations. In this written task I aim to expand on this knowledge by demonstrating the opinions on imperialism that Orwell expresses in his works.

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The format is a newspaper article because it is the most accessible information distributor for people in that era. This article will explore Orwell’s message by allowing him to elaborate on his metaphors and symbols. The structure of the task includes aesthetic choices to fit my text type such as a headline, an image, and columns of text.

Newspaper article also provides a suitable medium for the target audience; the educated. This audience was chosen because they are likely to relate to Orwell’s situation. The purpose of this task is to inform and provoke thought into how imperialism may inhibit the freedom of the British people.

In order to fulfill the criteria of Part 4: Critical Study Analyze elements such as theme and the ethical stance or moral values of literary texts, I wrote an alternative ending that could have occurred in George Orwell’s essay Shooting an Elephant. I aimed to depict and elaborate on Orwell’s defiance towards imperialism and reveal the internal conflict he held while working for a system that oppose his morals.

This alternative ending takes place after the 10th paragraph, but rather than pulling the trigger, Orwell decides not to shoot. This pastiche is therefore targeted at those who have already read the novel and are curious to see what would occur.

Various themes in Shooting an Elephant are reflected in this pastiche. One theme is Orwell’s struggle with the dichotomy between resentment towards Britain for how they mistreat the Burmese, and resentment towards the Burmese for how they mistreat Orwell. He must contend with this in my scene. Furthermore, to demonstrate the theme of fear of humiliation, I attempted to give an authentic insight into the shame that Orwell felt following his refusal to shoot the elephant.

Literary techniques present in the essay will be utilized to mimic Orwell’s style. For example, I adopted a simplistic and concise tone that Orwell values, and recreate language features such as tricolon and simile. I also made references to both British and Burmese culture, as evidenced by the use of the elephant as an extended metaphor for the victim of British imperialism. Just like Orwell, I too utilize first-person narration to provide a casual mood and an in-depth description of Orwell’s thoughts. By examining Orwell’s internal struggles in Shooting an Elephant to elaborate on his ideas, I have gained a more refined understanding on the theme and ethical/moral stance of his works.


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