essay

The Power of Oppressed Country in George Orwell’s Shooting an Elephant

The fort which prevents the freedom to reach out something new, different or opposite thing will be created as someone or a group of people has positioned him and others at certain things. In this case, the European tried to perpetuate his power by a variety of forms through colonizing the east, Burma, including in the domination of thoughts. However, the domination of mind they have created becomes a kind of boomerang for their freedom to act. In Passage 1, recounted how at the time the Europeans treat the Burmese people and all treatments was described by the Burmese resentment against the Europeans.
“As a police officer I was an obvious target and was baited whenever it seemed safe to do so. When a nimble Burman tripped me up on the football field and the referee (another Burman) looked the other way, the crowd yelled with hideous laughter. This happened more than once. In the end the sneering yellow faces of young men that met me everywhere, the insults hooted after me when I was at a safe distance, got badly on my nerves. The young Buddhist priests were the worst of all. There were several thousands of them in the town and none of them seemed to have anything to do except stand on street corners and jeer at Europeans.”
Shooting Elephant describes the imperialism according to imperialist’s point of view. How a European police officer who worked in Burma to feel confined by the Burmese. It is very ironic as it was the Europeans, the colonizers, who restraint the freedom of the Burmese. Until finally he has a conclusion in passage 7
“I perceived in this moment that when the white man turns tyrant it is his own freedom that he destroys.”
Receiving such a bad treatment from the Burmese, like it has been said before, then the police hated the imperialism.
“For at that time I had already made up my mind that imperialism was an evil thing and the sooner I chucked up my job and got out of it the better.”
“As for the job I was doing, I hated it more bitterly than I can perhaps make clear.”
“all these oppressed me with an intolerable sense of guilt.”
Even so, he tried to hide her guilt by saying “I was young and ill-educated and I had had to think out my problems in the utter silence that is imposed on every Englishman in the East.” And  “All I knew was that I was stuck between my hatred of the empire I served and my rage against the evil-spirited little beasts who tried to make my job impossible.” And “Feelings like these are the normal by-products of imperialism”
The obligation to behave as a European became the patron to hide his guilt for colonizing. It is also described that having that kind of guilt is a natural thing as a form of imperialism products. The European’s leaders make their people to have an attitude like that. It is not surprisingly if until this second they may not feel guilty for colonialism they have done in various countries because they hide the crimes of imperialism by arguing that imperialism is ‘the noble mission’ because it aims to modernize ‘the backward countries’. Burma and other colonies are considered as objects which should be moved forward by using the West as its representation of benchmark.
The moment of the uncontrolled raging of the elephant as it destroyed people’s homes gives awareness to the police. That all this time, he had been blind to the situation in front of his eyes, how this raging elephant actually symbolizes European government’s arbitrariness.
“It was a tiny incident in itself, but it gave me a better glimpse than I had had before of the real nature of imperialism – the real motives for which despotic governments act.”
This consciousness then strengthened by the sentence in Passage 4
“That is invariably the case in the East; a story always sounds clear enough at a distance, but the nearer you get to the scene of events the vaguer it becomes.”
The sentence above describes a proverb which says “the elephant in the eyelid is invisible but the ant in the across of the sea is clearly visible.” How he is not aware of his government’s atrocities until a raging elephant comes up in front of his eyes and revives him.
The interesting thing happened when the officer holds a weapon,
“As I started forward practically the whole population of the quarter flocked out of the houses and followed me.”
“They had not shown much interest in the elephant when he was merely ravaging their homes, but it was different now that he was going to be shot.”
The attitude of Burmese change dramatically when a raging elephant like to be shot, they are enthusiastic and curious in following these performances, even for a moment forgetting their hatred for the Europeans. They want the elephant to be shot. It is similar with people now who seem forgetting the colonialism which lasted for centuries and do not realize that most of us are still occupied his mind by the fanfare of modernization, which was launched by the Western nations so that they can keep continue to dominate the world according to their own perspective.  This moment shows us how a show can divert the attention; changing their hostility towards the Europeans.
When the police was holding the gun and like to shoot elephant, there was thousands people followed behind him and this created boundaries between people of Burma as spectators and the European with the elephant which would be shot as a show. The audiences (Burmese) wanted the elephant to be shot and as almost another shows that basically show what the audiences want to see or hear so the police felt trapped between his desire to not shoot this elephant and a desire to not be ridiculed or humiliated by thousands of spectators (the Burmese), which were directly behind him.
This also explains how a show, actually, is controlled by its audience. As Shakespeare did in his early career performances, he preferred making comedy to tragedy in case to attract the audiences in the first time. So maybe this is also the reason why horror films in Indonesia are filled of sexual scene and many people watch those films. That could be just one reason, because the audiences like and want it.
“I looked at the sea of yellow faces above the garish clothes-faces all happy and excited over this bit of fun, all certain that the elephant was going to be shot.”
“They did not like me, but with the magical rifle in my hands I was momentarily worth watching.”
“And suddenly I realized that I should have to shoot the elephant after all.”
Seeing the enthusiasm of thousands of Burmese people who follow him, the police felt no choice but to shoot the elephant, he felt that he initially disliked the people of Burma. But at that time he was the center of attention (he should satisfy the audience and the like) even though his freedom of action to follow his own instinct was really seized.
“The people expected it of me and I had got to do it; I could feel their two thousand wills pressing me forward, irresistibly”
“And it was at this moment, as I stood there with the rifle in my hands, that I first grasped the hollowness, the futility of the white man’s dominion in the East”.
“Here was I, the white man with his gun, standing in front of the unarmed native crowd – seemingly the leading actor of the piece; but in reality I was only an absurd puppet pushed to and fro by the will of those yellow faces behind”
Feeling pressured and has no choice but to the wishes of thousands of Burmese, he felt like being a European puppet controlled by the whims of Eastern people. He considered this situation as a failure of European’s domination of the East.
“And my whole life, every white man’s life in the East, was one long struggle not to be laughed at.”
Europeans (West) who imaged themselves as the superior and Burma (East) as the inferior feel that they should be upper than the East in everyway. The world of west thinks that the civilization of the East is a civilization that has not been perfect yet because it is still based on irrational worldview, mysticism and theology. As well as they (the west) in the age of Medieval which is often called the dark age because it was regarded as a time period that had bound human’s freedom in thought and action.
Reference
http://eslreading.org/shootinganelephant.pdf

The Power of Oppressed Country in George Orwell’s Shooting an Elephant

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