"Shooting an Elephant" Synthesis Essay

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“The Allegory of the Cave” and “Shooting an Elephant” seems like two completely different stories. Both of them have their own ways of showing enlightenment and ways of perceiving realities. After reading both of these tales multiple times, I’ve drawn some conclusions on the different ways of enlightenment that are described throughout each story.

In “Shooting an Elephant,” Policeman Eric Blair is asked to kill the elephant that was ravaging the village. Many times he would describe how he did not want to harm the animal and once even said “I had no intention of shooting the elephant – I had merely sent for the rifle to defend myself if necessary – and it is always unnerving to have a crowd following you” (Orwell, pg. 287). The last part of that sentence is one of the most important in the whole story. He did not want to take the animal’s life but he felt that he had to because of the “peer pressure” that was being put on him. He felt the pressure of the crowd to shoot the elephant and he sees that it is himself who has given up his freedom – not the Burmese. I believe that he becomes enlightened when he realized that he needed to get out of India because he didn’t agree with their imperialism, and to go back to England.

In “The Allegory of the Cave,” Plato embodied a metaphor that compares the way in which we see and believe is actual reality. He creates a cave where prisoners are chained down and are forced to stare at the dark wall in front of them. They are sheltered from any light. You can also perceive this in a different sense, for example all that they see in the world is darkness and that they do not know the difference between what is real and what they consider as “real.” “Like ourselves, I replied; and they see only their own shadows or the shadows of one another, which the fire throws on the opposite wall of

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the cave?” (Plato, 293) The man that has been forced into seeing the truth of things wants to share his enlightenment with...
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