Shooting an Elephant

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Julien Combes
Natasha Rebry
Writing 009
20th November 2011

“Shooting an Elephant“: Orwell’s combat against imperialism

“Shooting an Elephant” is an essay written by George Orwell, first published in the journal New Writing in 1936. In this essay, the author tells his own story about when he was working as a police officer for the Indian Imperial Police in Burma. His five years of experience in the Indian Imperial Police allowed him to have a good understanding of what exactly the “real nature of Imperialism” is. As an anti-imperialist writer, the author explains his hatred and guilt toward the arrogant system that cause him to denounce British Imperialism by demonstrating the incompatible relationship between the powerful Colonizer and the powerless Colonized. He feels like a victim of both the natives’ actions and the system of Imperialism itself.

It is important to know the author’s political view about British Imperialism to understand his critique. Even though he worked several years in Burma for the Indian Imperial Police, he has never abandoned anti-imperialism, which corresponds to a movement that is opposed to any form of colonialism. For instance, it could be an opposition to wars or the expansion of a country’s territory. In his previous work “Burmese Days”, which also tells Orwell’s story in Burma, the author has already mentioned anti-imperialism, which is the main message that he wanted to offer to the readers (Moosavinia et al, 103) .In “Shooting an Elephant”, he constantly remarks that he is against the domination of a country: “imperialism was an evil thing” (Orwell, 313), or “my hatred of the empire” (Orwell, 314). Moreover, he expresses a great sympathy toward the natives when he asserts, “I was all for the Burmese and all against their oppressors, the British”. He feels responsible for the pain that was inflicted on the natives. Orwell spent a lot of time and worked hard to denounce “anti-imperialism” during his life. From...
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