25 January 2014
Experience Outweighs Theoretical Knowledge in the Works of George Orwell
George Orwell’s essay “Shooting an Elephant” is the first of his works I was introduced to. I could not have asked for a better introduction to his writing style. It is one I can relate to. Even though I don’t consider myself a gifted linguist, the same type of life experiences are where I would find my writing voice. I feel very confident when I speak from experience. Theoretical knowledge, on the other hand, should not to be undervalued; it is simply theoretical. Not until one has lived through an experience can they begin to understand the contingencies and possible outcomes of their decisions. By failing or succeeding, one remembers the outcomes of a decision that might have seemed trivial. Without this experience knowledge, portraying an idea or concept with conviction can be very difficult. After all, wisdom and experience are synonymous with each other and Orwell utilizes both with finesse.
One might think at first that a job as a British police officer in a distant land would be exciting and full of adventure. A way to travel and see more of the world while supporting their homeland. It would make sense to believe this because someone applying for this position most likely lived in Great Britain. The only knowledge they would have of this job would come from their peers and local media sources. In contrast, if they could have asked someone who has held this position, they might reconsider the job entirely. Orwell had no idea what to expect when he took this same career opportunity. It wasn’t until he reached the far off land of Burma that he understood what this position truly entailed. As a police officer working for an invading country his presence was anything but desired. Or in his own words from the introduction of “Shooting an Elephant”: In Moulmein, in lower Burma, I was hated by large numbers of people- the only time in my life I have been...
Cited: Packer, George, comp. Facing Unpleasant Facts. First Mariner Books Edition ed. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2008. Print.
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