Shooting an Elephant

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“Shooting an Elephant”
By: George Orwell

In the essay “Shooting an Elephant” George Orwell argues that, “when the white man turns tyrant it is his own freedom that he destroys.” Free will is indestructible; an example of Orwell’s destruction of freedom but preservation of free will is given in his essay. Humans can always exercise their free will when making decisions. However, when their decisions come in conflict with the laws set by a higher power, they might face consequences based on how they choose to use their free will. According to Orwell his freedom was destroyed when he took on the role of the tyrant. A crisis arose in which he was faced with a hard decision to make. When Orwell came upon the elephant it was clear to him that it had calmed down and that the elephant would cause no more harm to anyone. Orwell was faced with a decision: he could either shoot the beast or wait until his master came to get him. However, this decision was made much more complicated. Two thousand Burmans who, as Orwell said, “were watching me as they would watch a conjurer about to perform a magic trick. They did not like me, but with the magical rifle in my hands I was momentarily worth watching.” Although the Burmans were all underneath him and subject to him, he was very concerned about what they thought he should do. He was so concerned in fact he concluded that he had to do as they wished of him. His freedom to choose whether or not to kill the elephant had been destroyed by himself. How was Orwell able to destroy his own freedom? Orwell explains: “I perceived in this moment that when the white man turns tyrant it is his own freedom that he destroys. He becomes a sort of hollow, posing dummy… the condition of his rule that he shall spend his life in trying to impress the “natives,” and so in every crisis he has got to do what the “natives” expect of him. He wears a mask, and his face grows to fit it. I had got to shoot the elephant.” Orwell’s free will, however, was...
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