The Depictions of Imperialism in Shooting an Elephany by George Orwell

Decent Essays

Shooting an Elephant” is an autobiographically influenced short story written by George Orwell and published in 1936. It deals with the inner conflict of an imperial police officer in Burma who feels pressured by the Burmese and forced to kill an outraged elephant in order to prove himself and his status as an imperial police officer.
The short story can be divided into two parts. In the first two paragraphs the narrator introduces himself and talks about his life and experience in working as a “sub-divisional police officer” in the town of Moulmein in Lower Burma. He also talks about his ambiguous attitude towards the Burmese people who ridicule and mock him because of anti-European feelings and towards the British Empire whose “dirty …show more content…

In the last paragraph of the short story he reflects on this incident and talks about discussions whether it was right of him to shoot the elephant or not.
The story is set in the early 20th century in a town in Lower Burma and the only character introduced to the reader is the European imperial police officer, whose name is unknown. The main thesis of the story is not presented at the beginning of the text but rather develops through the course of the actions. With his opposing attitude towards the British Empire the police officer is in a conflict with himself right from the beginning of the story which makes him a complex character.
He works for an Empire which ideals and actions he does not support but he can not identify with the Burmese people either because, as an European, he is not accepted in their country. Being mocked by the Burmese and seeing the “dirty work” of the Empire he feels hatred for both the oppressed and the oppressor. His realisation about what imperialism really is makes him even more reluctant towards the British Empire but at the same time he does not see a way out of the situation and feels pressured by the ideal of imperialism into doing something he does not feel right about.
Orwell based his short story on his own experience as a police officer in Burma and chooses to use an auto diegetic first-person narrator to tell his story. He wants to talk about his own experiences or his own inner

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