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English Essay 1 - Cao 1 Anthony Cao Natalie Bakopoulos...

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Cao 1 Anthony Cao Natalie Bakopoulos English 125, Section 059 4 October 2010 Conflict and Paradoxical Perspectives He came, he saw, but he failed to conquer. In the narrative “Shooting an Elephant”, George Orwell recounts his experiences as a police officer in Burma during the British occupation, and his resulting internal struggles. As he continues working in Burma, he faces a predicament of killing an elephant, which ultimately perfectly symbolizes his ambivalence. Orwell uses these notions of ambivalence and paradox to magnify the resulting oppressive force of isolation. The conflicting nature of Orwell's perspectives accentuate and exacerbate his sense of hypocrisy, making him feel isolated. He is “all for the Burmese and all against the oppressors, the British”(199). On one hand, he serves the British empire and seeks to carry out his orders. On the other hand, he fights his own sense of morality by wishing for the independence of the Burmese people while concurrently hating them for their treatment of him. This contradiction not only illustrates his unrest, but also emphasizes his lack of a foundation. He is against the British occupation, “an unbreakable tyranny”(199), making himself isolated from his fellow Europeans. He is against the Burmese by circumstance, making himself isolated from the natives. They oppose him to the point of feeling that “the greatest joy in the world would be to drive a bayonet into a Buddhist priest's guts”(199). This powerfully contradictory feeling of supporting the Burmese while wanting to stab them leaves him enemies, but no friends. This notion is further exemplified through his ability to see the nasty undertakings of the Empire, such as their brutal treatment of prisoners. Seeing all of the punishment and living conditions of the Burmese convicts “oppressed [Orwell] with an intolerable sense of guilt”(199). Orwell once again finds himself in a contradictory position; he is the one left feeling guilty,
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Cao 2 as opposed to the incarcerated criminals. And in this instance, the oppressor is also being oppressed.
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