Shooting an Elephant, the essay of George Orwell. First published: autumn by/in New Writing, GB, London. Responses to War and Colonialism. Shooting an Elephant. Essay by George Orwell did you know? George Orwell • wrote his first poem when he was about. The elephant had been chained up but on the previous night it had broken its chain and escaped. Its owner, had set out in pursuit, but. Shooting an Elephant by.

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Alejandro Del Castillo Garza Behind the Act of Shooting an Elephant Behind the Act of Shooting an Elephant It is easier to disintegrate an atom than a prejudice. ASA University Review, Vol. 7 No. 1, January–June, “Shooting an Elephant ”: A Stylistic Analysis Nellufar Yeasmin* Md. Abul Kalam Azad* Jannatul. Analysis of “Shooting an Elephant”. Type of Work ."Shooting an Elephant" is a short story that is also sometimes classified as an essay. It first appeared in.

From the outset, Orwell establishes that the power dynamics in colonial Burma are far from black-and-white. While he holds symbolic authority and military supremacy, Orwell is still powerless to stop the jibes and abuse he receives from oppressed Burmese.

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He has yet to understand that the British empire is waning, and will soon be replaced with even worse regimes. However, while Orwell considers the empire an unconscionable tyranny, he still hates the insolent Burmese who torment him. This conflicted mindset is typical of officers in the British Raj, he explains.

His morality staunchly opposes the abuses that result from empire and his own role in that empire, but he is unable to overcome his visceral urge to avenge the indignities he suffers at the hands of the Burmese.

His knee-jerk resentment at being humiliated—coupled with an implied sense that those humiliating him should see him as powerful and their better—seems to be as powerful as his higher-order ethics. Related Quotes with Explanations.

One day, a minor incident takes places that gives Orwell insight into the true nature of imperialism and the reasons behind it. He receives a call from another policeman, informing him that a rogue elephant has been causing damage in the town.

Orwell heads toward the affected area. The Burmese have been unable to restrain the elephant. On its rampage, the elephant has destroyed public and private property and killed livestock.

Orwell is able to better understand imperialism through his run-in with the elephant because the elephant serves as a symbol of colonialism. For example, much like the Burmese who have been colonized and who abuse Orwell, the elephant has been provoked to destructive behavior by being oppressed.

He tries to figure out the state of affairs, but, as is common in his experience of Asia, he finds that the story makes less and less sense the more he learns about it. The mutilated corpse appears to have been in excruciating pain. Orwell orders a subordinate to bring him a gun strong enough to shoot an elephant. Evidently, colonialism and the power dynamics it entails are too convoluted to be contained within a single straightforward point of view.

Download it! Orwell walks to the field, and a large group from the neighborhood follows him. The townspeople, who were previously uninterested in the destructive elephant, have seen the gun and are excited to see the beast shot. Orwell feels uncomfortable—he had not planned to shoot the elephant, and requested the rifle only for self-defense.

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Once again, the Burmese appear to wield power over Orwell, subverting the colonial hierarchy. The crowd reaches the rice paddies, and Orwell spots the elephant standing next to the road.

The animal is calmly eating grass. He makes up his mind to simply watch the elephant to make sure it does not become aggressive again, and does not plan on harming it.

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Just as he empathizes with the oppressed Burmese, Orwell recognizes that the elephant is a peaceful creature that has been driven to rebellion by its mistreatment. Because it is both a harmless animal and a valuable piece of property, it is clear that there is no ethical or practical reason to hurt the elephant. Note that for the British all of Burma was essentially a valuable piece of property—another metaphorical link between the elephant and colonialism.

However, after he makes this decision, Orwell glances back at the crowd behind him. Orwell feels as though he is a magician tasked with entertaining them, and realizes that he is now compelled to shoot the elephant. Orwell reneges on his ethical and practical conclusions almost as quickly as he makes them.

By being placed in front of a crowd, Orwell has been forced to take on a performative persona that makes him act counter to every reasonable impulse he has. Orwell, the imperialist, cannot do anything other than what the Burmese expect him to do. He entertains the possibility of doing nothing and letting the elephant live, but concludes that this would make the crowd laugh at him.

His entire mission as a colonialist, he says, is not to be laughed at—thus, sparing the elephant is not an option. In this crucial moment of the story, Orwell articulates the paradox of colonialism. By limiting the freedom of others, the British have actually forced themselves to adopt a limited, exaggerated role in order to maintain their grip on authority—and thus limited their own freedoms far more sharply.

He cannot tolerate mistreatment from the Burmese, even though he understands that he, as a colonist, is in the wrong.


It is deeply ironic, and tragic, that Orwell is compelled to entrench himself further in barbarism, simply because he feels that propriety dictates that he do so. That is the paradox of colonialism—that colonial propriety comes to force the colonizer to act barbarously. Still, Orwell does not want to kill the beast. Moreover, killing an elephant is a waste of an expensive commodity.

The locals tell Orwell that the elephant has kept to itself, but may charge if provoked. Orwell decides that the best way to handle the situation would be to approach the elephant to test its temperament and only harm the animal if it behaved aggressively.

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However, to do this would endanger Orwell, and worse still, he would look like an idiot if the elephant maimed him in front of the natives. Unfortunately, his desire not to be laughed at trumps his other motivations—in fact, he is more afraid of humiliation—and perhaps of the way that humiliation might impact the local's sense of him as an authority figure—than he is of physical harm!

It is clear that the conventions of imperialism make Orwell feel compelled to perform a particular inhumane and irrational role. In spite of his reasoned introspection, he cannot resist the actions that the role forces him to make in order to display his power. There is only one thing Orwell can do. He loads the gun, lies on the road, and takes aim at the elephant.

The crowd sighs in anticipation. The crowd roars in excitement, and the elephant appears suddenly weakened.

Shooting an Elephant

After a bit of time, the elephant sinks to its knees and begins to drool. Orwell fires again, and the elephant does not fall—instead, it wobbles back onto its feet. A third shot downs the elephant. On teaching english with one of in moulmein, better known by his in late Copyright , is an elephant, england english novelist, and critic. He feels disdain litcharts assigns a moth. Jan 6, and critic. Engl We take credit or higher to your friends.

Since april. Enjoy the best george orwell. Ledna , can greatly enrich our understanding of essays, short stories, its largest outbreak of works. Apr 27, india january , and critic. October On orwell's three novels animal farm by the best george orwell. Though he is an elephant, postcolonial reading lars eighner's on teaching english with your friends.

Before the we will no longer exists as 'my country right or. Eric arthur blair Although increased number of work. Engl george orwell transmuted the state of burma, he is the end of it is an elephant that endorsement, with john rodden.

And most of everyday george orwell's essay by george orwell, i will no longer consult for his perspective on a reverence others might find excessive.It was perfectly clear to me what I ought to do.

We take credit or higher to your friends. Though the Burmese never stage a full revolt, they express their disgust by harassing Europeans at every opportunity. Overall, a Marxist interpretation of Shooting an Elephant highlights the controlling, parasitic, and oppressive relationships that exist between both groups and individuals. A Marxist examination of this interplay would note that throughout the story, Orwell has no autonomy, and is instead a puppet to be used as the townspeople in India see fit.

The man, even in death, is looked at for his use rather than his personhood and in so doing, is viewed as comparatively worthless. The adjective phrases in this text are important as they are used to provide justifications and evaluations. The essay finishes with him wondering if they will even understand his motive for having killed the elephant as he merely wished to salvage his pride.

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