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George Orwell was born in 1903 in Motihari, Bengal that was a British colony of India. At birth, he was named Eric Blair by his father, Richard who worked for the Opium Department of the civil service. At the age of one, his mother, Ida, took him to England. He had two sisters, Marjorie and Avril. Marjorie was the eldest while Avril was the youngest in the entire family.
Orwell was sent to an Anglican parish school in Henley at the tender age of five. At the school, he impressed his teachers and after two years. He was recommended to the headmaster of one of the best preparatory schools in England, St Cyprian’s School located in Eastbourne, Sussex. At the school, he was given a half basis scholarship. He worked well and earned scholarships to Wellington and Eton colleges. He only spent a term at Wellington before moving to Eton where he was a King’s scholar from 1917-1921.
After completing his studies at Eton, he joined the Indian Imperial police in Burma. His hate for imperialism made him resign and return to England in 1928. The hate for imperialism made him publish his first novel “Burmese Days” in 1934 and the story “Shooting an Elephant” (Bloom,pp 23). Poverty later pushed him into teaching before being forced to resign and work as an assistant in a bookshop due to his ill health.
He volunteered as a fighter after the break out of the Spanish civil war. The neck injury he got from the war made him write the essay,”Wounded by a Fascist Sniper” Soon after the war, he returned to England where until 1940, he wrote book reviews. He was later married to Eileen O’Shaughnessy between 1936 and 1945. He passed on in January 1950 at the age of 26 after doing several writing works.
The story,”Shooting an Elephant” was written because of George Orwell’s hatred against imperialism and oppression of innocent people. This essay explicates the relevance of the story to people, its Literature form and the author’s perception about life and how it should be lived.
Most people appreciate this story because it frankly talks about oppression of the subjects by masters. This is common even in the contemporary world where leaders subject their citizens to oppressive leadership. The author attacks oppression and shows his huge hatred for it. George Orwell says that, in a job like that, you see the dirty work of the Empire at close quarters. These words are indicative of the extreme injustices committed by the British Empire under the imperialism policy (We,pp 102). They make the story more appreciated because of its efforts to address and condemn injustices against humanity in the contemporary world. The essay is used as a peoples’ voice in the condemnation of injustices against humanity and innocent natives. Through these words, the author highlights the negativities that the subjects were subjected to and their immense suffering. These words are connected to the theme of oppression. The words,” dirty work" indicate the atrocities committed by the British Empire against the subjects. The author uses the words to show the extent of these oppressions which he describes as dirty. The words are in the essay, to emphasize the ugliness of these oppressions.
The story is considered Literature because of the stylistic devices it employs in condemning the oppression. George Orwell asserts that he was told to shoot an elephant. The “shooting of the elephant” is a metaphor that criticizes the British imperialism. He uses this stylistic device to apologize to the oppressed Indians (Reichmann, pp 110). In addition, the story employs symbolism to make it more memorable. Orwell says that he did not want to shoot the elephant. This saying is symbolic, the first person “I” symbolizes the imperial country ready to commit injustices to the subjects. The “elephant symbolizes” the victims of oppression. The story is also considered literature because of its use of irony. Orwell says that he realized he had to shoot the elephant after all because of the peoples’ irresistible pressure. Irony depicts, as it is the natives that control the executioner instead of vice-versa. All these statements that employ literary devices make the story Literature. The statements are vital because they enable the reader get a better picture of the real situation. They enhance a deeper understanding of the story. They all make the theme of oppression stick vividly in the minds of the reader. These words are in the story, to give a clear description of the imperial activities of the British. The words further criticize any acts of oppression against innocent human beings.
The author tries to say that life is full of challenges. He tries to say that life is sometimes full of injustices for the benefit of the few. He had been employed as an imperial police, to be able to earn a living. In the real sense, he was to oppress other people in order to earn a living. Orwell says that he thought that the greatest joy would be to drive a bayonet into a Buddhist’s priest gut. These words emphasize the injustices he was going to commit in his career as an imperialist police officer. They in turn highlight the theme of oppression and its adverse results (Orwell, pp 188). The author further tries to tell the reader that one should make his own decisions in life without being swayed by any force. He says that one should do what he feels is the most correct course of action instead of following the wrong path that could lead to the immense suffering of others as he gains. George Orwell says that he had already made up his mind that imperialism was evil, and he urgently needed to get out of his job for the better. These words are vital as they reveal independence in decision-making. Orwell independently makes the decision of stepping out of the job even if it meant staying in poverty. The words also connect to the theme of oppression. It criticizes oppression as an evil deed that needs no support. The words have been used in the text, to emphasize that an individual should make decisions that are for the betterment of everyone instead of selfish interests. The author talks about life being so challenging but encourages individuals to make the correct decisions that they feel will help in the betterment of the society.
In conclusion, the story “Shooting an Elephant” is widely appreciated by most individuals because of its open criticism of acts of oppression. In addition, it is a Literature story because of the manner in which it employs various stylistic devices to highlight the theme of oppression against innocent human beings. Notably, symbolism depicts in the story, which contributes to its consideration as literature. Arguably, the author’s early life played a crucial role to his writing of this literary text. Specifically, he was motivated by his hate for imperialism. Despite the author never leading a luxurious life all the same, he encourages readers to make wise decisions in their daily lives for the betterment of the society. He also encourages readers to criticize and resent any acts of oppression in the society by speaking out against them.