25 June 2007
“The role society plays in determining our free will.”
In an excerpt from “Shooting an Elephant”, George Orwell illustrates a seemingly simple story, with deeper more complex meanings and analogies. Orwell suggests society’s role on free will if one might act against their own beliefs when faced with undermined circumstances. He depicts himself in this excerpt from a narrative view of his personal experience as a British officer who slay an animal he deemed unnecessary to kill. Orwell ends up killing the elephant as a result of the pressure he feels by society. The idea of free will is that we are in control of our choices and that we are ultimately free to think and decide for ourselves. Although this definition seems one-dimensional, with a closer look, the existence of free will is actually much more complex than meets the eye. George Orwell expresses his feelings regarding free will and imperialism of free will through three symbols the Burmese-society, the elephant-the British empire, and himself as a British officer dealing with his conflicting interests.
Free will is one of the most discussed controversial issue of modern day and many would argue that our society plays a key role in determining our actions throughout life, perhaps even before birth. In this situation freewill is not a choice at this point, but rather a decision to go along with. Because Orwell did not want to be ridiculed or made to look a fool in front of the Burmese (society) he felt like he had to go along with their wishes to kill the elephant as a means of avoiding ridicule. The Burmese as society was savage Indians who despised the presence of British soldiers. Take our culture today with children growing up in a world already predetermined for them, their train of thought is interrupted by what they are constantly exposed to: media, family, friends, environment and etc. As a teenager growing up watching television, I would see a...