Revisiting the Concept of Freedom in George Orwell’s A Hanging and Shooting an Elephant: A Postcolonial Perspective


George Orwell's Shooting an Elephant and A Hanging are representative of an essentialist colonial discourse that widens gaps and nourishes conflicts between the west and other civilizations and cultures. The research paper argues that the image of the white man as an independent, free, self-determining and self-initiated subject is shattered by an uncritical acquiescence to the authority of the empire and the native crowds. Recognizing ironic freedom as grasped from the standpoints of first person narrators is essential for determining who is really free: the Burmese or their colonizer. Edward Said’s metaphors of the potentate and traveller, which respectively signify domination and acculturation, lay the ground upon which the narrator in each of Orwell's stories is characterized. The narrators' physical and emotional detachment from Burma parallels their unbreakable ideological attachment to the empire. This parallelism unveils a desire for dominion and control and a suppressed fear of humility or servility. Yet, their authority and command as potentates are disrupted by the restrictions the empire, as well as the natives, place on their freedom.


Hussein Zeidanin and Abdullah Shehabat


empire, freedom, Orwell, post-colonialism, potentate, traveller