Shooting an Elephant Essay
George Orwell wrote “Shooting an Elephant” to teach readers about imperialism and its effects on not only those ruled but also those charged with maintaining order above them. Orwell’s narrator is a British colonial official stationed in Burma who is charged with keeping the local populace from rioting. The officer speaks of how he is frightened by the Burmans and even by his own people rulers. Fear is one of the ways that Orwell shows that imperialism affects the rulers. Also shown is that the “conquered” feel anger towards their rulers; we learn that the Burmans take their frustrations out on the British officers. Orwell uses the tale of “Shooting any Elephant” to warn people that imperialism brings more trouble than it is worth, especially when difficult decisions need to be made. The adverse affects of imperialism are great in number, especially for those that have been conquered. These conquered people receive neither rights nor representation in courts. They are forced to pay high tax rates to foreign rulers. The people seek to instigate and topple the regime that they are forced to live under; they work towards thwarting any plans that their rulers try to initiate. The conquered laugh whenever they see any of the officials blunder or make a mistake since they only have so much in the way of entertainment. In the story, the narrarator is called upon to handle an elephant that had rampaged through the bazaar and trampled a citizen to death. The natives wanted the officials to kill the elephant since they do not have much in the way of meat; the natives formed a group of at least two thousand to watch the officer encounter the elephant they wanted to pressure him into killing the beast. The natives in the story are extremely happy when the officer chooses to kill the elephant because now they can eat the meat for many days to come, and they can also sell the ivory since it...
Cited: Orwell, George. "Shooting an Elephant." The Blair Reader: Exploring Issues and Ideas. Ed. Laurie G. Kirzner
and Stephen R. Mandell. 8th ed. New York: Prentice Hall, 2013. 457-463.
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