Analysis Of Shooting An Elephant

898 WordsOct 17, 20174 Pages
‘Shooting an Elephant’ Short Story Review Shooting an Elephant, by George Orwell, is a short story about British colonialism in South Asia, during the 1900s. Orwell was inspired to write this story from his own experiences as part of the Indian Imperial Police for the British Empire (Eilers). Most readers often forget that law enforcers do not follow orders blindly and that they do contemplate the orders that are given to them. Orwell’s accounts gives readers a unique perspective of the dichotomy of living as an enforcer for the oppressive British rule, alongside the oppressed, but tantalizing Burmese. This short story is not only about an elephant being shot, but also about shifts in power and the importance of nationalism in colonial…show more content…
This quote highlights that when the Burmese saw a chance to assert some power they immediately did, by ultimately commanding Orwell to take the elephant down with his ‘magic rifle’. This happens because, “[…] he shall spend his life in trying to impress the ‘natives’, and so in every crisis he has got to do what the ‘natives’ expect of him” (Orwell 5). Orwell is left with a unique dilemma; he has to choose whether he should kill the elephant to satisfy the natives or keep his morals and let the elephant leave on its own time. Orwell decides to kill the elephant and abandon his morals. This is fundamentally the same role he has to play for the British Empire. Oppressing the Burmese is a moral problem for him, but he is forced to do so regardless, due to his British superiors. Nationalism is also an integral part of the story. Orwell clearly does not feel obligated to love the Empire that he serves, but he also dislikes the people he commands. He states, “[…] I was stuck between the hatred of the empire I served and my rage against the evil-spirited little beasts who tried to make my job impossible” (Orwell 2). The British at the time had a sense of nationalistic pride as, ‘The sun never sets on the British Empire,’ was the motto for the Empire, due to its vastness and its rule. The Burmese were united by their hatred for the British. The Burmese had been obligated to assimilate with British culture by
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