Shooting an Elephant, Critical Analysis

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Shooting an Elephant, Critical Analysis

By | March 2005
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Throughout Orwell's literary career, he avidly stood against totalitarian and imperialistic forms of government. His two most famous works (1984 and Animal Farm) both exemplify this point, but at the same time weaken it. These two works were written in protest of those governments, but in a fictional back ground. In Orwell's essay Shooting an Elephant, he uses a personal experience to more clearly emphasize the impact of imperialism at the sociological and psychological level, in conjunction with other literary elements. This symposium of devices help drive the purpose of his paper and ultimately creates a more substantial impact on any reader.

The most obvious is his choice to illustrate his point through a very real and personal experience of his own. By doing so, it rendered an almost real and more tangible world for the audience to interact with. Orwell, being an Englishmen, was in a position to see both sides of imperialism's harms to society, and present both to his audience. He told how both abused the other either physically or verbally, and how they ran each other's actions. While it is possible to explain this by other means, the direct experience with it testified much stronger.

In addition, this form of writing allowed Orwell's voice to come more clearly to the reader. He was able to directly express his thoughts and views at the time. Weather they were a loathing toward his position in life or that, "…the greatest joy in the world would be to drive a bayonet into a Buddhist priests' guts." This involves the reader more into the mindset and dilemma of Orwell's world. This split of his mind on both his government, and the people forced upon him by his government.

By using a personal narrative, it opened the door to the use of a stream of consciousness style of story telling. He told the story as it happened to him, thus enabling the reader to relive this moment exactly as he did. The evolution of his thoughts from when he asked...
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