October 22, 2013
Is it Murder?
“Shooting an Elephant” and “A Hanging” are two essays written by a man maned George Orwell that follow similar plots, but have many differences. A police officer is requested to carry out the execution of a run-away elephant in“Shooting an Elephant”. And a prison guard is ordered to carry out the execution of a condemned felon in “A Hanging”. Both end with a death, but are they justified? Or is it murder? In this essay I will discuss the similarities of the two subjects and the deaths they encountered.
The narrators of the two stories had similar occupations and similar feelings about the tasks it comes with. Though both seemed to protect their community, each was not respected by the people they served. The police officer was European and of a different race than the Burmese he served, a race that was despised by Burmese people for the oppression they felt by Europeans. The prisoners of the guard were jealous of his freedom. The two narrators had mixed feelings about the duties of their job as well. The police officer felt like he was involved in imperialism and despised it. He did not like the close proximity to the foul smelled inmates and the fact that they tried to do everything to make his job difficult. He got so upset at one point that he stated that “the greatest Joy in the world would be to drive a bayonet into a Buddhist priestess guts” (Shooting an Elephant). The prison guard felt sorry for the prisoners he guarded, because the cells that they were confined to were “like small animal cages” (A
Hanging). The two characters also felt the two deaths were inevitable and that they were powerless to stop it. The police officer felt pressured by the chanting, intense Burmese who were now being polite and welcoming to him to shoot the elephant as they wished. The guard was following one of the procedures of his job. His opinion also did not matter because others has...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document