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Read the Excerpt From George Orwell, and Explain the Different Stylistic Forms He Uses: ("Shooting an Elephant") in Moulmein, in Lower Burma, I Was Hated by Large Numbers of People – the Only Time in My Life That I Have Been Important Enough for This to Happen to Me. I Was Sub-Divisional Police Officer of the Town, and in an Aimless, Petty Kind of Way Anti-European Feeling Was Very Bitter

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Bound by the chains of imperialism, Orwell’s helpless situation led him to be overwhelmed by the guilt of killing an elephant. He displayed his guilt and helplessness through the use of juxtaposition, metaphors, similes, imagery, and symbols. Pressured by the Burman people and his desire to fulfill his duties as a policeman, Orwell made the decision to shoot the elephant.

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Respect from the villagers means shooting the elephant, not shooting the elephant; humiliation. This is the problem the narrator of the story Shooting an Elephant faced. He was already hated for being an English police officer by the locals in Burma. This hatred he receives can be solved through the rampant elephant situation that comes up. This was not an easy case. However, the narrator takes it on in hopes of earning respect from the villagers. The decision is a big one and the decision he ends up making may not have been the best one. The narrator decided to shoot the elephant, however, he should have let the elephant live because the elephants attack was over when he finally caught up with the elephant. His ultimate decision is not the best one because the elephant eventually calmed down, his reason for killing the elephant was not right, and it was not his elephant that he killed. Despite the wild rampage and violent actions of the elephant the animal did eventually calm down. The elephant was being kept by a villager and it simply went crazy because this is what usually happens to tame elephants. “It had been chained up, as tamed elephants always are when their attack of ‘must’ is due” (Orwell, 2). The rampage the elephant went on was fairly common among other elephants that were owned by villagers. The elephant trampled a villager, destroyed another villagers hut, killed one cattle, and damaged other people's property- like their cars. It soon calmed down but the villagers were still in shock from the damage the elephant did

When the policemen finally found the elephant it was calmly eating grass. The policemen didn’t want to shoot him because he knew the elephant would no longer be of harm because the “must” was over. The villagers had been following him when they saw him carrying a gun when chasing after the elephant and now there was a large crowd behind him. The intense pressure of the expectations of the crowd and their lack of respect for him as an English policeman led him to change his mind and shoot the animal. Another key point is that the Englishman was highly disliked by the locals.

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The aim of these two pieces is to portray societies as notorious for curtailing the freedom of individuals. Not only do communities prescribe rules that must be followed by all but also have expectations on certain individuals that are out of touch with reality. The main characters in these two stories find themselves in odd positions where their individual freedoms are subordinated under those of the community. Orwell was made to shoot the elephant against his will, while Ah Q had no right over his sir name and was mistreated by the locals (Orwell para 7: Hsun para 3, 5). There is also a well-developed attempt to portray imperialism in its negative light (Orwell para 3; Hsun 2). The two authors also use irony to great extent. Ah Q thinks himself the enlightened one even thought the reader knows he is not, while Orwell agonizes under the realization of the irony of western imperialisms (Hsun para 16; Orwell para 3). However, these authors also portray certain differences in their works. Hsun uses satire more overtly to laugh at the societies ills than Orwell. Ah Q thinks that he is the “number one self-doubter” and when your remove “self-doubter” you are left with “number one.” So he is always number one (6). He also sees his failures as his victories (7)

Orwell creates a sympathetic attitude on the main subject while Hsun’s has comic relief (Orwell para 1, 2; Hsun 8). The aim of Shooting an Elephant is to describe the plight of those who rebel against their own culture, and are unappreciated by those they make this sacrifice for (Orwell para 2). Hsun work criticizes satirically the failed Chinese revolution of 1911. The failure of this revolution is symbolized in the power of women who seduce men thus derailing them from their noble duty of revolutionizing the society. These women are demonized as the causes of the failed revolution (11).

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In the end, the British Empire is just an abstract system but it is the actual people, whether the colonized or the colonizer, who must give up their freedom in order to live within this system. In killing the elephant, Orwell stopped being a “person” and become just an agent of the British Empire, thus losing his freedom as an individual.

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Hsun, Lu. “The True Story Of Ah Q.” 2002. Blackmask Online. Web.

Orwell, George. “Shooting an Elephant.” 1950. 15 February, 2011.

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