Free Will

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Date Submitted: 08/28/2011 10:45 AM

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Free Will in Shooting an Elephant and Antigone

Free will can be defined as: “The right, given to humans by God, to make their own decisions.” A mans free will cannot be destroyed by any power other than God. Humans can always exercise their free will when making decisions. However, when their decisions come in conflict with the laws set by a higher power, they might face consequences based on how they choose to use their free will. The more restrictions imposed upon someone’s free will the more restricted their ability to make decisions become. The extent to which someone may exercise their free will can be defined as their “freedom.” Therefore, the more laws imposed upon someone’s free will the more restricted their freedom. Although no power, save God, can destroy free will, they can limit and even destroy someones freedom. In the essay Shooting an Elephant George Orwell argues that, “when the white man turns tyrant it is his own freedom that he destroys” (Orwell, 704). Free will is indestructible; an example of Orwell’s destruction of freedom but preservation of free will is given in his essay. In Antigone an example of how even though higher powers can limit your decisions they cannot stop you from exercising your free will.

According to Orwell his freedom was destroyed when he took on the role of the tyrant. His job was that of a sub-divisional police officer in Lower Burma. A crisis arose in which he was faced with a hard decision to make. An elephant had gone on a rampage in the village and had destroyed countless huts and killed a man. When Orwell came upon the elephant it was clear to him that it had calmed down and that the elephant would cause no more harm to anyone. Orwell was faced with a decision: he could either shoot the beast or wait until his master came to get him. However, this decision was made much more complicated. Orwell was surrounded by two thousand Burmans who, as Orwell said, “were watching me as they would watch a conjurer about...