Analysis of George Orwell's 'Shooting an Elephant' Essay example

1050 Words Sep 18th, 2008 5 Pages
Technique Analysis of ‘Shooting an elephant’
Written by George Orwell
Essay by Arthur Diennet

In 1936, George Orwell published his short story ‘Shooting an elephant’ in an English magazine. Since then, it has been republished dozens of times and holds a place as a definitive anti-colonial piece of literature, in an era where the British Empire was at its peak and covered almost 1/3 of the Earth’s surface. George Orwell believed that “…imperialism was an evil thing...” and uses much themes, symbolism and irony to convey his strong anti-colonialist feelings.

Theme is an integral part of this story and is mostly presented through the narrator. One of the major themes of the story is conscience, in which many of the conflicts in the
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By popular thinking of that day, disorientating violence exacted on the community can only be dealt with through an equal and opposite reaction of violence toward the exacter. An old saying throughout Europe goes ‘Do not hunt monsters, lest you wish to become one yourself.’ Yet, his order and disorder themes lend greatly to the senses of symbolism in the story.

Orwell employs symbolism as a major literary technique, aiding our understanding of his stance against colonialism and our understanding of the setting. From the start, it is clear that he represents the modern, the western industrial English, at complete odds with the rural and primitive Burmese. It is believed that the focal symbolic point would be the narrators stand against the elephant. In the paragraph in which the narrator fires at the elephant, it is seen as docile, not bothering anyone anymore and having only made a sporadic wrong. The narrator then fires at the quite calm elephant once, but it does not fall and so, while it is still weak, he fires two more shots, bringing the magnificent creature down. Burma (The country in which the story is situated) has a long history of wars with the British Empire before finally giving in to Colonialism; three wars to be exact. It can be seen in the history books that Burma only wronged the British in a minor way and in fact was not directly bothering the British Raj and much like the narrator, it
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