Free Will Shooting an Elephant
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Have you ever been pressured to do something that you didnt want to do? Sometimes we do things for no reason and other times we do it because we are forced to. In life we come to situations where our mind tells us one thing but our heart says another. In “Shooting an Elephant” the protagonist is stuck in a situation on whether or not to kill an elephant. When he sees the elephant his conscience tells him not to shoot the elephant while at the same time he wants to avoid looking like a fool. After a confliction with himself he finally does what any man in his shoes might have done, he shoots the elephant. This dichotomy between his thoughts and actions represents the protagonists split personality.

In “Shooting an Elephant” Orwell starts his story with a protagonist that is hated by the people not because of his personality but because of who he represents. However even though the protagonist receives such hatred for working for the government he still supports the Burmese, for he cannot stand the government himself. He hated having to feel the sense of guilt for being a part of such a cruel system where all he could do was watch prisoners get beaten.

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. Theoretically–and secretly of course–I was all for the Burmese and all against their oppressors, the British. In a job like that you see the dirty work of Empire at close quarters.

When the protagonist is called to settle the chaos brought by the elephant he quickly comes to a conflict where he must make a decision on if he should shoot the elephant or to leave it be. At first he decides not to shoot the elephant because it seemed harmless and was just peacefully eating grass, but stepping back into reality he knows that the crowd behind him expects him to shoot the elephant with no mercy. In this scene the protagonist is the only one that can kill the elephant and gathers a crowd of over two thousand men who want to see him do it. In a way the protagonist seems like a leader with his rifle ready to shoot the elephant while at the same time he can be seen as a puppet that the crowd is controlling from behind lifting up his rifle and performing what the crowd wants him to do.

I decided that I would watch him for a little while to make sure that he did not turn savage again, and then go home. But at that moment I glanced round at the crowd that had followed me. It was an immense crowd, two thousand at the least and growing every minute. It blocked the road for a long distance on either side. 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. The people expected it of me and I had got to do it; I could feel their two thousand wills pressing me forward, irresistibly.

Some people thought that he made the right choice while others still dont understand the real reason for his actions. The protagonist uses the death of the coolie as a scapegoat to avoid being jeered at and to cover his true feelings.


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Protagonists Split Personality And Protagonist. (June 14, 2021). Retrieved from