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Shooting an Elephant by George Orwell

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Submitted By Pratik
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SHOOTING AN ELEPHANT
PRATIK THAPA

"Shooting an Elephant" tells a story of George Orwell as he struggles between his moral objection to not shoot an elephant and legal responsibility to shoot it. Throughout his adventure, he decides that it is best to kill the elephant however he believes that It is against his rationale. Though, he feels bad about killing the elephant, he kills it at last and he tries to justify his act throughout the whole essay explaining how pressuring and compelling the situation was and why he had to do it.
First of all, he describes how destructive the elephant was. I think this, as his first justification for killing an elephant. He thinks it is important to kill something that is endangering public lives and public property. He quotes, “It had already destroyed somebody's bamboo hut, killed a cow and raided some fruit-stalls and devoured the stock; also it had met the municipal rubbish van and, when the driver jumped out and took to his heels, had turned the van over and inflicted violence upon it.” Even with this judgment, it seems difficult for him to decide if he really has to kill that animal and he waits for alternative.
Secondly, he continues to describe the Elephant being more violent. As he passes, the village, he sees many acts of the elephant that he describes as cruel and unkind. He also sees “a dead man’s body sprawling in the mud.” His use of words such as “head sharply twisted to one side”, “the teeth bared and grinning with an expression of unendurable agony” prove that he is turning his belief.
However, despite all these events, he does not want to shoot the elephant. He sees killing a working elephant is like destroying a huge piece of machinery. In his point of view, it is a huge destruction. So, he quotes, " It is a serious matter to shoot a working elephant—it is comparable to destroying a huge and costly piece of machinery—and obviously one ought not to do it if it can possibly be avoided."
Moreover, George Orwell continues to give many justification for why he had to shoot the elephant at last. He also says, it is not necessary to kill the elephant if it is just eating grass and enjoying the paddy field. Nevertheless, the crowd that follows behind him expect him to kill the animal. Through his writing, he tries to prove that the villagers is only concerned about eating meat and not worried about the elephant. Even when the mass is growing at an alarming rate, he tries to be certain in the issue of not shooting the elephant. As the mass pressure increases to kill the elephant before it does something wrong again, he shoots it at the end. And when the crowd enjoys and cheers up, he feels that it is devilish thing to enjoy. He says, "I heard the devilish roar of glee that went up from the crowd..."
Finally when he shot the elephant and goes away from it he regrets the event. He describes, though it is rewarding thing to do in the eye of the law, it is not good in his sense. I totally agree with this argument that killing such large animal itself is like a murder. When I was child, I thought it was enjoyable to beat a cat to death. One day, I waited in the backyard until one cat came and tried to hit it with a stick. I did not know I have a good hand on throwing things until the cat lied unconscious on the ground because of my throw. I cried the whole night. I asked my mom to do something about it and she took it to the hospital. I still don't know if the cat survived or died but later on, my mother told me that it was all okay and I should not worry about it. From that day on, I have always believed that it is not good to hurt something.
In conclusion, we can say that this essay is the internal conflict between his rationale and responsibility. George Orwell is trying to explain that he did the right thing. We all try to find some excuse for our mistakes and he is doing the same thing. However, I like the aspect of the essay that it shows the honesty of the George Orwell. This explains exactly what he felt at that time and also shows the personality of the writer in clear and detailed way.

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