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Home » , » Narrate Orwell's attitude towards Imperialism and colonial people In his essay "Shooting an Elephant."

Narrate Orwell's attitude towards Imperialism and colonial people

If we look back to the history we find that there was always a trend of the powerful nations to seize the independence and sovereignty of weaker nations and to bring it under its yolk. The powerful always practised the method of oppression and suppression and subjugation on the seized country. In the 19th century some of the European nations extended their dominion to the east - to Asia and Africa. Thus 'imperialism', the act of capturing others' nations by force and ruling it subsequently came to establish its firm foot. Imperialism gave birth to two dominant classes - one is oppressor and the other is oppressed; one is the ruling class and the other is the ruled. This political trend in the history arrested the attention of many writers for its distinctive features of oppression and psychological conflict involved.
Imperialism and colonial people

George Orwell's "Shooting an Elephant" is a critique of the political situation of his time. The essay is a critique of imperialism. In the essay he depicts how colonialism treats the colonised people. Orwell gives a realistic picture of imperialism, as he himself was a part of the imperialistic machine through enlistment in the Burmese Police. Imperialism and colonial people.

His stay in Burrna provided him the opportunity to view from a close quarter the by-products of imperialism. Thus "Shooting an Elephant", a masterly creation of Orwell, deals with some facts and details of colonialism in the sub-continent.

The Indian sub-continent came under British colonial rule. As the British subjugated India, a vast change took place in each and every nook of life. Not only the general life and culture were affected, but also the economy, social life even personal lives were vastly influenced by imperialism. The implication of imperialism affected and agonised the native inhabitants of India. The coloniser dominated over the Burmese people; though the Burmese were great in number, they did not dare to go against the oppressor. But it created a lot of animosity and bad feeling between the ruler and the ruled. At the very outset the narrator of the essay tells us about the hatred that the native Burmese harbour about him and with the feeling he used to be greeted - "In Moulmein, in Lower Burma, I was hated by large numbers of people". The narrator also states that the "anti-European feeling was very bitter ". The natives never spared the slightest opportunity to jeer at the ruling men - "No one had the guts to raise a riot, but if a European woman went through the bazaars alone somebody would probably spit betel juice over her dress. 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 Buman) 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 comers and jeer at Europeans." The impact of colonisation was that the narrator as a sub-divisional police officer had to face many unpleasant things. The natives did all these things as an acclamation of their agony and dismay towards Englishmen.

The reaction from the Europeans was in no way pleasant for the natives. If they could capture any of the Burmese doing the aforementioned things, they flogged them by bamboo. The oppression that the ruling class would inflict on the natives is given vivid expression in the essay - "The wretched prisoners huddling in the stinking cages of the lock-ups, the grey, cowed faces of the long- term convicts, the scarred buttocks of the men who had been flogged with bamboos-all these oppressed me with an intolerable sense of guilt." The narrator's dilemma is evident; he was placed in a precarious condition. Thought he harboured a deep detestation for imperialism and termed it "an Evil and always felt sorry for the oppressed, the reality, as he himself belonged to the oppressor class did not spare him from the ill-treatment of the natives.

In the essay Orwell is very critical of colonialism and takes his stand against it. His bitterness against colonialism grew from the realisation that it not only snatches away freedom from the ruled or subjugated but also destroys in a very painful way the freedom of the oppressor. The concept of imperialism rendered the rulers such a powerful but all devouring image that it turned them into puppets at the hands of the natives. The narrator's will and wishes became futile and trivial when faced with the overwhelming crowd.


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