Every decision made, will affect us, wether it’s in a negative or positive way. Everyone at some point in their lives will experience some form of peer pressure. Peer pressure is a very influential when we are making decisions. Peer pressure encourages other people to change the way they are or values to please those who are influencing us, which can be a group or an individual.
In comparing and contrasting the essays “Shooting an Elephant” by George Orwell and “Group Minds” by Doris Lessing, the authors share homogeneous arguments, revealing the tendency for individuals to choose to comply to the majority of peoples beliefs against their own will. However, both authors use unalike writing styles and each have a different purpose that they communicate to their audience. “Shooting an Elephant” tells a story about a man being pressures by a tribe to kill an elephant in order to be accepted, while “Group Minds” discusses how most people tend to agree with others when they’re in groups because versus when they’re alone.
In the essay “Shooting an Elephant”, George Orwell tells the story of a white police officer in lower Burma who was disliked by most people who he was surrounded by. In the village, there was rumors about an angry elephant who was harming people and property. When he was told to examine the village and check this elephant out. As he was searching for it, he overheard someone screaming for help. A woman was telling everyone to get away from an injured man who got squished and killed by the enraged elephant.
The officer who had brought a rifle to scare off the elephant was suddenly surrounded by the villagers waiting for him to kill the harmful elephant. The officer who felt bad for the elephant, felt the need to kill it because everyone was counting on him, he did not want to let the village down. It was his duty to protect them, but he also wanted to be liked. He did not want to look like a fool. The village disliked him since the beginning, so he wanted to be known as a hero, as a man who killed the elephant and left a ton of food behind.
It was never inn his mind to kill the elephant, but he eventually gave up. He let peer pressure influence his decision. Doris Lessing’s “Group Minds” is an excerpt from a lecture she gave in 1985. She started her lecture by going over groups and talks specifically in a universal setting talking about Western philosophy and that we are living in a free society, existing as individuals and making individual choices. We as people live as groups. Family groups, working parters, and even church groups.
Therefore, there is no was of making decisions that we truly believe in. There is always that thought in our head “well maybe, Jill would have done this instead… “. Lessing believes that resisting group pressure to maintain one’s individual opinion is very difficult and anyone has the tendency to act like everyone else in a group. Lessing believes that, we, the people, are “group animals” and have group mindsets when we interact with others in our families, at work, and in social, religious, and political groups.
Without knowing it, we allow others opinions and actions to influence ours. When someone is isolated outside or a group, asserts that two pieces of wood are not equal in length, the group forces the individual to comply with them, and change their mind that maybe that piece of wood, is actually the same size. Lessing and Orwell, have very different styles of writing to draw the reader in. Doris uses an academic style of writing with an educated approach supported by her tone, language and different organizational style.
She describes the problem of individuals being deceived as they think they are free individuals as a portrait not acquired consciously. Lessing starts her essay by describing the view Western people usually have about themselves. She says that people from the West tend to think of themselves as free people able to do as they please. She says that this type of thinking is a result of the “general atmosphere. ” Lessing then describes humans as “group animals. ” Humans want to belong to a group, they even join groups that are not very well defined.
She says that most people do not like to be alone, and those who do are made out to be outcasts. She also explains that people want to be around others that think the same way they do. Even though humans tend to be around those who think similarly, there can be differences that arise between an individuals opinions and the general opinions of the group. She describes how people feel bad when they go against the group. Members of that group even suppress their own beliefs, and say that “black is white” just because the group does.
Both Orwell and Lessing have very different purposes for writing their essays. Lessing believes that people cave into the group mind because it is human like to agree with others, she provides a proposal counter group mind thinking. She suggests that people need to be more careful and and not be so quick to please the people around us. She wishes that we could simply tell our kids about this, so they don’t grow up being pressured, and they can maybe improve themselves and society.
The aftermath of Orwell’s killing of the elephant illustrates the way the colonial cycle perpetuates itself. Those harmed by the violence are either silenced or lack resources. Orwell’s choice to kill the elephant was controversial. The elephant’s owner was angry, but, as an Indian, had no legal recourse. How imperialism devours the humanity of the colonized people and helps to devoid of dignity is apparent in the story and can be understood through the actions of the Burmese people.