shooting an elephant
shooting an elephant
shooting an elephant
Zusammenfassung zu dem essay shooting an elephant von George orwell
Shooting an Elephant Plot summary "Shooting an Elephant" by George Orwell is a narrative essay about Orwell's time as a police officer for the British Raj in colonial Burma. The essay delves into an inner conflict that Orwell experiences in his role of representing the British Empire and upholding the law. At the opening of the essay Orwell explains that he is opposed to the British colonial project in Burma. In explicit terms he says that he's on the side of the Burmese people, who he feels are oppressed by colonial rule. As a police officer he sees the brutalities of the imperial project up close and first hand. He resents the British presence in the country. Inevitably then, he faces challenges as a police officer representing British imperial power. The people of Burma hate the empire too, and thus they hate Orwell, for he is the face of the empire. They harass him and mock him and seek opportunities to laugh at him. Orwell's entire focus as a police officer thus becomes about avoiding the ridicule of the Burmese. On this day, Orwell learns that an elephant has broken its chain and it is undergoing a bout of "must" (a passing hormonal disorder that causes elephants to become...
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uncontrollably violent). The elephant is rampaging through a bazaar, wreaking havoc. Feeling compelled to do some decent policing, Orwell sets out with a small rifle to see what's happening. He states that he has no intention of killing the elephant. When he arrives in the shanty town area he finds the mess the elephant has made. It has trampled grass huts and turned over a garbage disposal van and it has killed a man. Orwell sends for an elephant rifle, though he still has no intention of killing the elephant. He states that he merely wants to defend himself. With the rifle, he's led down to the paddy fields where he sees the giant elephant peacefully grazing. Upon laying eyes on the elephant he instantly feels that it would be wrong to kill it. It would go against everything in him to kill it. He says it would be like murder. But when looks back to see the people watching, he realizes that the crowd is massive! He feels their eyes on him, and their great expectations of his role. They want to see the spectacle. But more importantly, he feels, they expect him to uphold the performance of power that he is meant to represent as an officer of the British Empire. At this stage Orwell has the clear revelation that all white men in the colonized world are beholden to the people whom they colonize. If he falters, he will let down the guise of power, but most of all, he will create an opportunity for the people to laugh. He thus gets down on the ground, takes aim with the powerful elephant gun with cross-hairs in the viewer, and he fires at the elephant's brain. He hits the elephant and the crowd roars. But the elephant doesn't die. A disturbing change comes over it and merely seems to age. He fires again and this time brings it slowly to its knees. But still it doesn't go down. He fires again and it comes back up, dramatically rising on hind legs and lifting its trunk before thundering to the earth. Still however, it remains alive. Orwell goes to it and finds that it's still breathing. He proceeds to unload bullet after bullet into the elephant's heart, but it won't die. The people have swarmed in to steal the meat. Without describing his shame or guilt, he leaves the elephant alive, suffering terribly. He learns later that it took half an hour for the elephant to die. There's some discussion among the other police officers about whether or not he did the right thing. The older ones think he did. The younger ones feel that it's a shame to shoot an elephant for killing a Burmese collie. The Narrator. - narrator does not have a name => is obvious that the narrator is based on Orwell himself - resentment the Burmese feel toward the British - describes being tripped in front of a large crowd - frequently the butt of jokes - He is disillusioned with the Empire at the time this event takes place and has decided he wants out of the Burmese police force - he is morally opposed to all of the oppression he witnesses - he doesn't particularly feel sympathy for the Burmese - narrator to confront the mad elephant that has been terrorizing his town, the narrator is painfully aware of the fact that the crowd is watching his every move - He kills the elephant, he admits, "to avoid looking a fool." The Burmese - the narrator depicts the Burmese in a negative light they laugh at him in the streets and trip him during football games and impede his work as a police officer for the British Empire - Buddhist monks are the worst of the lot and seem to do nothing but stand on street corners and jeer at the English and, presumably, foreigners - Their anger is justified, and stems directly from the oppressive imperial rule that the British have imposed upon Burma the Burmese hate the British because they want to be independent from the Empire, and the narrator hates the Burmese because he is part of the Empire (if not exactly an imperialist) The Burmese's ill-treatment of the English is as much about resistance as it is about entertainment: they enjoy seeing the narrator fail, and it seems they would like nothing more than to watch him get trampled by the elephant - As the narrator prepares to shoot the elephant, it is almost as if they are watching a show => This characterizes the crowd as a group of onlookers more interested in the spectacle of the shooting than in the lives of those involved - The Elephant - it is "no more dangerous than a cow" - even though the animal has undoubtedly caused havoc in the area it is still a formidable, perhaps even regal, animal who seems to want nothing more than to be left alone to eat grass - is owned by a local Indian man who failed to properly corral it When the narrator shoots the elephant, he is acting in the role of a British imperialist oppressing the people, here symbolized by the elephant. His first shot doesn't kill the animal, however. Instead, the elephant stands up, trumpeting one last time before falling to the ground. The narrator then takes a rifle and shoots the elephant several times in the throat, but the elephant, with its tough, regal hide, refuses to die for another hour or more. The narrator later learns that the Burmese stripped the meat off the elephant's body and left nothing but the bones.