Moral Issues And Decisions In George Orwell's Shooting An Elephant

624 words - 2 pages

Moral Issues and Decisions in Shooting an Elephant 

 
Throughout "Shooting an Elephant" by George Orwell, he addresses his  internal battle with the issues of morality and immorality. He writes of several situations that show his immoral doings. When George Orwell signed up for a five-year position as a British officer in Burma he was unaware of the moral struggle that he was going to face. Likewise, he has an internal clash between his moral conscious and his immoral actions. Therefore, Orwell becomes a puppet to the will of the Burmese by abandoning his thoughts of moral righteousness. This conflicts with the moral issue of relying upon other's morals, rather than one's own conscience.

 

During Orwell's time in India he is exposed to several unethical situations. As an imperial officer, Orwell is often harassed, "I was an obvious target and was baited whenever it seemed safe"(Orwell 521). Therefore, Orwell's initial feelings are fear and rage toward the Burmese. He displays his hate in wanting " to drive a bayonet into the Buddhist priest's guts"(522). However, though he feels hate he, "[is] all for the Burmese"(521). These conflicting emotions of devotion and hatred for the Burmese are only the beginning of his internal, moral oppositions. 

 

Orwell next faces the moral dilemma of whether or not to shoot the elephant. At first, it is clear that he does not feel the internal urge to shoot the elephant: "It seemed to me that it would be murder to shoot him" (Orwell.525). However, Orwell's virtue becomes dwarfed as the Burmese's "two thousand wills [press him] forward"(524) to kill the elephant. At this point there is an obvious role reversal as the Burmese begin to strongly influence Orwells decisions. Because he constantly dwells on what the crowd will think of him he shoots the elephant. Thus submitting to the will of the people and...

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