Shooting an Elephant Analysis
‘Shooting an Elephant’ is a canon written by Orwell about his experience as a police officer in Burma. Although his original motherland was Britain, he was born in Burma where his parents had come to reside as colonial masters. While he was on the verge of his career, he faced an ethical dilemma. Elephants had been terrorizing residents for quite some time. On a material day, he was called upon to contain a rogue elephant that had made life unbearable. As a loyal and professional officer, he was expected to eliminate the berserk beast without any hesitation and contemplation. In a particular instance, Orwell hesitated to take a shot momentarily. He thought killing the animal would be an act of brutality. On the other hand, the pressure was piling up from residents for him to finish his job. Orwell was faced with a dilemma on to respond. In addition, he believed that killing the wild animal was an inhumane act. In addition, if he had refused to take a shot, he would have gone against his job’s code of conduct. Eventually, he made a difficult decision and shot the animal. He was guilty conscious and hated his job description passionately. Orwell repeatedly fired at the elephant, but it failed to die instantly. He felt that he had gone against his will as he saw the huge animal languishing in pain. It can be observed that the symbol utilized in the Broadview introduction to literature, short fiction (Lumsden et al, 2012, p.6).
In the literature work, the protagonist tries to allude to how the British colony brutally treated the people of Burma. In addition, he attempts to symbolize that both masters and slaves are left wounded when they try to settle their scores. Despite the fact, that he was against the British government in exploiting the people of Burma, later on, he is seen to be celebrating the British government. In the canon, he represents the British oppressors while, on the other hand, the elephant symbolizes the citizens of Burma. When called upon to shoot the elephant, he is quite adamant. Orwell wants the readers to believe that he was a nobleman. Orwell was felt kindness to people; no way was he going to infringe the people’s rights. However, the moment he starts firing his gun, his hypocritical nature comes out. Despite the fact, that he had released a deadly bullet, he orders another sophisticated firearm to finish the animal quickly. Orwell is no different from other British oppressors. He tries to hide his nature, but it becomes revealed when he is easily influenced to act (Lumsden et al, 2012, p.8). There is an apparent contraction of the protagonist’s personality in the book. He seems to be preaching water and drinking wine. He pretends to be caring for the light of the people, but his actions are quite different from what he claims to be standing for in society. Despite being under intense pressure from the public, the police officer had the freedom to make his decision. Orwell gave in to the pressure of the people while in reality, he was against the brutal act. The protagonist was in an influential person meaning that if he chose the alternative decision of refusing to kill the animal, nobody was going to proceed to take action against him for absconding his duty. Furthermore, he was part of the regime that was in place meaning that he was immune to punishment. However, the author can be given some benefit of the doubt. In the incident, that he kills the elephant, he was forced to act against his will. He was persuaded by an angry mob to kill the beast because it had destroyed people’s life and property. At a particular point, a conflict of interest arose. The public was justified to demand the animal to be since it had killed a woman. On the other hand, Orwell was also justified by hesitating to make the decision. Due to the conflict of interest, Orwell was justified for the decision he made since it was for the benefit of many people. He was just an innocent party caught up in a difficult situation (Lumsden et al, 2012, pp.7-10). The dilemma the author of the book faced is similar to what people face in their social and professional lives. Every day people face ethical dilemmas. In such scenarios, individuals may act irrationally without being sensitive to the impact of the decisions on others. Consequently, they end up hurting others only to come and regret later. In order to avoid being guilty conscious about the choices people make, they must be rational. In addition, although sometimes leaders are influenced to make decisions that are popular with the people, they should be rational and demonstrate leadership skills. They should provide alternative solutions to people that have fewer severe implications (Lumsden et al, 2012, pp.5-10).
Lumsden, Paul, Lisa Chalykoff, and Neta Gordon. The Broadview Introduction to literature, short fiction. Peterborough, Ontario, Canada: Broadview Press, 2013. Print.