The essay describes the experience of the English narrator, possibly Orwell himself, called upon to shoot an aggressive elephant while working as a police officer in Burma. Because the locals expect him to do the job, he does so against his better judgment, his anguish increased by the elephant's slow and painful death. The story is regarded as a metaphor for British imperialism, and for Orwell's view that "when the white man turns tyrant it is his own freedom that he destroys. Orwell spent some of his life in Burma in a position akin to that of the narrator, but the degree to which his account is autobiographical is disputed, with no conclusive evidence to prove it to be fact or fiction.
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Leibniz on the Problem of Evil
F ifty years ago the writer and philosopher Hannah Arendt witnessed the end of the trial of Adolf Eichmann , one of the major figures in the organisation of the Holocaust. Covering the trial Arendt coined the phrase "the banality of evil", a phrase that has since become something of an intellectual cliche. But what did she really mean?