In the essay Shooting an Elephant George Orwell writes about two major subjects imperialism and despotism. According to the New Oxford American Dictionary the meaning of imperialism is “a policy of extending a country’s power and influence diplomacy or military force”, and the meaning of despotism is “the exercise of absolute power, especially in a cruel and oppressive way.” Even though Orwell does not dwell on the subjects in writing, in depth his essay revolves around imperialistic views and despotism. Imperialism applies to Orwell’s essay because this time period in Burma he was an officer and he was working for the British who were the “imperialist” to the Indian people. In the essay Orwell states that imperialism is an evil thing and he does not agree with its structure. He also states that he was for the Burmese people and against their oppressors. In turn his feelings towards imperialism made him question the ruling of the British over the Burmese people. Despotism relates to the essay because Orwell, as an officer, was supposed to be the one “in charge” but because of his feelings towards imperialism the Burmese people where the ones calling the shots. In many ways he was torn between two things, he thought about the elephant and how he didn’t want to kill the elephant or let it run free. He only decided to kill the elephant because the people were not only pressuring him but because the elephant was a danger to society at the time. If you think about it the people did not like Orwell because he was an officer for the British. So with that known he was in a position where if he didn’t kill the elephant the Burmese people would still dislike him because he is an officer of the British.
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