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Modernism and Imperialism Themes in Orwell's Work

“Shooting an Elephant,” a short story by George Orwell, is about a man who goes against his morals and succumbs to social pressures at the expense of an innocent elephant. The story, published in 1936, was influenced by the formal innovations and social believed of the Modernist Period. In the course of this time, widespread British Imperialism had a excellent impact on society Orwell’s life experiences and the current events of the time also greatly influenced his work. Orwell presents the Modernist themes of Imperialism, racial feuds and isolation utilizing direct, matter-of-truth sentences and a truthful, conversational tone. All through, Orwell’s use of an sincere initial particular person stream of consciousness based on his experiences in India displays the racial tensions brought on by Imperialism for the duration of the Modernist Period.

Born in 1903, Orwell lived towards the finish of British Imperialism, a time of excellent conflict. The atrocities the British inflicted on their subjects, specifically in India, greatly impacted him. Excellent Britain colonized India and held handle of it for over two centuries. The British exploited the country for its abundance of goods such as spices and gold, and employed it to expand their trading routes and sphere of influence. Imperialism benefited the British, but not the Indians. When Britain gained control of India, the Indians faced persecution in their own country and forced assimilation into European culture. Right after spending time functioning as a police officer in a rundown village in Burma, India, Orwell became aware of these injustices. He was, “Keenly conscious of the inequalities of Imperialism” (Hopkinson 2) and openly expressed his disdain for the practice. He particulars the horrors skilled by the Indian subjects in his stories. In his writing, Orwell reflects his very first-hand experience of the evils of Imperialism and his wonderful hatred of the British government.

The setting in Burma tremendously impacted the story. Related to the protagonist in the story, Orwell acted as the assistant district superintendent of the Imperial Police in Burma. During this time the author witnessed much discrimination and injustice towards the Indians. Only a select group of European males ruled millions of Indians by means of force, creating an imbalance of power. Orwell channeled his animosity into his writing by, “Immersing himself in difficult circumstances and then writing about them with extraordinary insight” (Hopkinson 1). By carrying out so, he assists the reader much better understand the injustices of Imperialism. Orwell’s criticism of Imperialism and deep understanding of the plight of the Indians add thoughtful insight to the story.

The plot of “Shooting an Elephant” and the protagonist’s thoughts portray how racial tensions and societal expectations can alter a man’s values. The plot of the story demonstrates the racial tensions in between the British Imperialists and the villagers of Burma. The European men handle the villagers, which makes the unnamed protagonist feel like he need to act powerful. He feels that, “He has got to do what the ‘natives’ count on of him” (Orwell 6) and be the powerful and brave leader they want him to be. For this cause, he takes action when a group of frenzied villagers inform him that a wild elephant is causing havoc in their village. At very first, the protagonist has no intention of killing the elephant. He demonstrates this by only taking a small handgun for protection. This rapidly modifications. As he approaches the village, he sees a trampled corpse of a man and thousands of villagers. As the protagonist pursues the elephant, the massive crowd follows, watching his each and every move. Despite the fact that he did not originally strategy on killing the elephant, he feels pressure from the villagers and shoots. The elephant does not die right away, it requires a lot of bullets and over half an hour for the elephant to gradually parish. The villagers watch in as awe as if the killing was their entertainment, and after the elephant dies, they scavenge for its meat.

Inside the narration, there is considerably debate on whether or not or not the killing of the elephant is ethical. The protagonist internally struggles with obtaining killed the elephant and is overwhelmed by guilt. In the finish, the protagonist is relieved that the elephant killed a man, due to the fact it gave him the legal right to kill the elephant. But the protagonist did not kill the elephant to shield the village or because it was the appropriate factor to do. He states that “Legally I had completed the right issue,” (Orwell 9) but morally he did not. He killed the elephant to sustain his image as a strong leader and safeguard his ego.

By utilizing first-individual narration, Orwell displays the protagonist’s internal struggle with regards to shooting the elephant. The protagonist narrates the story employing a stream of consciousness to give blunt, truthful accounts. He makes use of a didactic manner to educate the reader and describe the horrors of British Imperialism. He portrays Orwell’s hatred of British Imperialism and sympathy for the Burmese with an “Honest use of language” (Kinsella 1). By using initial particular person narration, Orwell supplies the reader with a glimpse into the protagonist’s inner thoughts and reveals “Extraordinary insight” (Kinsella 1). It also depicts the character improvement of the protagonist from a morally upstanding police officer to a weak-willed elephant murderer. The story consists of the narrator’s inner thoughts to show his moral development and criticisms of the cruel Imperialistic method.

The three Modernist themes illustrated in “Shooting an Elephant” are Imperialism, racial feuds, and isolation. Portrayed negatively, Imperialism greatly influences the story. Orwell negatively describes Imperialism and reveals its immorality. The story displays the loss of freedom and injustices the villagers endure. The second theme, racial feuds, is shown by way of the tensions in between the protagonist and the villagers. Because of the British Imperialism of Burma, India, a little group of Europeans are given energy more than the millions of Indians of the country. This wonderful imbalance of power causes the villagers to resent the protagonist and the other Europeans in their nation. The villagers had a bitter, “Anti-European feeling” (Orwell 1) toward the protagonist which affected their partnership. The third theme presented in the story is isolation. Simply because he is the only European in the village and one particular of the couple of white guys in all of India, the narrator is ostracized. The British have rule more than the Indians and domain more than their nation, so the narrator separates himself as the man in power. This causes him to feel like he have to rise to meet the India’s great expectations of the white Europeans in power. British Imperialism of India causes racial feuds and isolation of the protagonist, which are three of the prominent themes of the story.

“Shooting an Elephant” illustrates the social tensions developed by British Imperialism. Orwell draws off of his experiences as a police officer in Burma to develop the protagonist, which produced a far more insightful and realistic character. Employing very first individual narration, Orwell clearly describes the narrator’s thoughts and feelings. Therefore, he is in a position to show the protagonist’s character development by way of the story. He transforms from an upstanding police officer to a weak-willed man that disregards his morals and better judgement to conform to the expectations of other folks. In addition, Orwell critiques British Imperialism in India and expresses his disdain for the remedy of the Burmese. He exposes their exploitation and the racist actions taken against them. All round, George Orwell makes use of first particular person narration to portray the thoughts and emotions of the protagonist and draws on his personal experiences with British Imperialism to create a short story highlighting the racial tensions in Burma, India. A man is no match for an elephant, unless he has a gun. The British troops would be no match for the millions of Indians, except they have guns. The slow death of the elephant reminds the reader of the lengthy, cruel period of British Imperialism in India, which killed the cost-free will of the Indians. Orwell makes use of the seemingly simple situation of a man shooting an elephant to bring to light the discomfort and consequences of Imperialism.
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