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The elephant's death is also a symbol for the slow death of Burma. Before the arrival of the empire, Burma was free but now it struggles for its last dying breaths under British rule. The meaning of this is clear because the narrator doesn't even try to hide his feelings about the monarchy at all. The British crown is abusing and killing everyone it oppresses and it wounds their officers by making them take part in activities that make all of them go totally against their inner will.
The elephant is the most powerful symbol of all and he finally dies but with alot of agony nor is it guilty of anything but being what it is. Those under British rule are also behaving like they really are and being what they were born to be but the power of the empire is forcing them to bend and behave in ways that are totally unnatural.
Orwell also uses alot of irony in the essay to prove important points. Like fFor example, his inner struggle comes out because of how he is perceived by the Burmese. So the narrator acts and behaves certain ways to avoid their sneers and jeers. In this way, the white man has actually become a puppet of the natives because he is afraid to appear like a certain way before them. They expect him to kill the elephant so he does it. He says that the Burmese are evil-spirited beasts, but deep down inside he still cares alot about what they think so much that he went totally against his own moral judgment. He knows that legal wise, he was right but he knew with the crowd of Burmese was "growing every minute' (697), so he knew he had no choice in the matter even if the elephant had returned to being totally calm again.. It is so ironic that the right thing to do becomes the impossible thing to do. The narrator is fully aware of how he is behaving and even admits that he is an "absurd puppet" (697) and that he "wears a mask" (697).
In a moment of realization, he states, "I perceived in this moment that when the white man turns tyrant it is his own freedom that he destroys" (697). He also knows that his friends will have something to say about his behavior. At the end of the essay, the narrator states that his older friends agreed with his decision to shoot the animal but the younger men said that it was a "damn shame" (699). So, here we see that the narrator was in a situation in that no matter what he did, he would still receive criticism. This only shows the irony that killing the animal does nothing for no one except help the narrator maintain his status as an official that must do his duty.
"Shooting an Elephant," really gets into the nature of man from several different ways of looking at it. The narrator's view is the most important because he is forced to realize all sorts of things about himself and others by killing the elephant. The theme of an individual's struggle to do the right thing becomes the main theme of the essay. The danger of imperialism comes out in the narrator's circumstances. He finds that he cannot act according to his true self because of his profession and how others would perceive him. He is a symbol just like the Burmese are symbols of the oppression of the British. The elephant is a symbol of what happens to those under such oppression. The irony exists when the narrator finds that he is forced to behave a certain way by those that he is supposedly above. He is expected to keep things in order but that goes totally against his own beliefs. While the Burmese think he's the oppressor, he is really only a puppet for those around him. He is really no more free than the Burmese either. It is through these circumstances that Orwell demonstrates how difficult it is to simply be human and follow one's heart at times. Work, peer pressure, and outside pressure can be powerful…[continue]
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