Context[ edit ] Britain conquered Burma over a period of 62 years —during which three Anglo-Burmese wars took place, and incorporated it into its Indian Empire. It was administered as a province of India untilwhen it became a separate, self-governing colony, attaining its independence on January 4, With a strong interest in the lives of the working class, Orwell—born in India to a middle-class family, but brought up in Britain—held the post of assistant superintendent in the British Indian Imperial Police in Burma from to The Kipling -inspired romance of the Raj had been worn thin by the daily realities of his job in which,
George Orwell's essay, Shooting an Elephant, deals with the evils of imperialism. The unjust shooting of an elephant in Orwell's story is the central focus from which Orwell builds his argument through the two dominant characters, the elephant and its executioner.
The British officer, the executioner, acts as a symbol of the imperial country, while the elephant symbolizes the victim of imperialism. Together, the solider and the elephant turns this tragic anecdote into an attack on the institution of imperialism.
The importance in the shooting of the elephant lies in how the incident depicts the different aspects of imperialism.
In this essay, the elephant and the British officer help prove that imperialism is a double-edge sword.
The shooting of the elephant is the incident that reveals that imperialism inflicts damage on both parties in a imperialistic relationship. The British officer, Orwell, displays many aspects of the being the "absurd puppet" under the institution of imperialism.
To give reason to their forceful colonization, the imperialists must strip themselves of their own freedom as they constantly try to "impress the natives" to prove the superiority of the white man. Racism arises from imperialism not out of hate or prejudice; it is just something that becomes appropriate for the situation.
The sort of convenient racism allows people to hate one another for no good reason. The elephant, along with the two thousand Burmese, plays an even more depressing role when compared to the soldier.
The elephant plays the "stricken, shrunken, immensely old" countries that have been stormed and conquered by imperialism, while the Burmese play its "helpless" people. The "great beast," meaning both the elephant and the countries that it represents, becomes "powerless to move and yet powerless to die" under the hands of the white man.
Instead of organizing to drive out imperialism, these people "spit betel juice" on white women to release their anger, and instead of saving an elephant that a fellow Burmese owned, they have decided to take its meat. Together, the officer, the Burmese, and the elephant portray imperialism as an institution that is only capable of harm.
The shooting of the elephant is wrong, just as imposing imperialism is wrong. People know that imperialism is destructive, just as Orwell knows he "ought not to shoot" the elephant.
Being a white man, Orwell "mustn't be frightened in front of the natives" because he is part of the imperialistic empire that needs to prove its superiority to justify its colonization of other countries.
The question of whether or not the shooting of the elephant is justified is an important question. One can begin to understand Orwell's argument against imperialism by seeing the wrong in Orwell's shooting of the elephant. Orwell shoots the elephant for the sake of holding up the white man's image, not for the reason of safety.
The flaws in imperialism begin to emerge when the elephant dies for this selfish reason. Presenting the shooting of the elephant as a torture for both Orwell, who does not want to shot the elephant, and the elephant, who painfully dies, focuses the reader's attention on the suffering that imperialism causes for both parties.
If the shooting was justified, Orwell's argument would have been immensely weakened. The symbolic story in the Shooting an Elephant is an attack towards imperialism.
Orwell presents the ironic truth that imperialism benefits neither the imperialist nor the countries they colonize. It is perhaps sad to see that men were once willing to buy in to the fraudulent and ephemeral glory that imperialism have offered.
Hopefully, men have learned their lessons and no other animal will be sacrificed for men's greed.
I remember analyzing this essay in a Literature class, and if I recall correctly, the basic message was that the British, in becoming the rulers of the Burmese, inadvertenly made themselves the subjects of the Burmese, as they were now required to meet certain expectations that they may not want to fulfill.
This is illustrated in the entire image Orwell casts when he talks about approaching the elephant. It was an immense crowd, two thousand at the least and growing every minute.
It blocked the road for a long distance on either side. I looked at the sea of yellow faces above the garish clothes-faces all happy and excited over this bit of fun, all certain that the elephant was going to be shot. They were watching me as they would watch a conjurer about to perform a trick.
They did not like me, but with the magical rifle in my hands I was momentarily worth watching. Clearly one would envision Orwell to be the ruler, but it is NOT so.The Elephant as a Symbol for Imperialism in "Shooting an Elephant” Words 5 Pages In “Shooting an Elephant,” Orwell retold an occasion where he was struggling to come to a final decision of whether to shoot the elephant or not.
"Shooting an Elephant" is an essay by English writer George Orwell, first published in the literary magazine New Writing in late and broadcast by the BBC Home Service on 12 October In George Orwell's “Shooting an Elephant,” deals with the evil side of imperialism.
The shooting of the elephant in Orwell's story is the central focus from which Orwell builds his argument through the two dominant characters, the elephant and the British officer.
Shooting an Elephant is an essay written and published in the autumn of The essay mainly illustrates how a white British imperial police officer in Burma reacted and responded when he ought to encounter a ravaging elephant while he was on duty.
The essay "Shooting an Elephant" is set in a town in southern Burma during the colonial period. The country that is today Burma (Myanmar) was, during the time of Orwell's experiences in the colony, a province of India, itself a British colony.
Imperialism In George Orwell’s “Shooting an Elephant” Eric Arthur Blair, whose pen name was George Orwell, was a British author, novelist, essaying, and a critic%(1).