Shooting an Elephant by George Orwell

Topics: Imperialism, British Empire, Colonialism Pages: 2 (756 words) Published: March 10, 2011
“Shooting An Elephant”

“Shooting an Elephant” by George Orwell deals with the evils of imperialism; Orwell uses metaphors to represent his feelings on imperialism, his inner conflict between his personal morals and his duty to his country. Orwell demonstrates his outlook and feelings about imperialism; and how it effects his duty as to being a white man. The elephant and the British officer help prove that imperialism is a double-edge sword. Together, the soldier and the elephant turn this story into an attack on imperialism.

Orwell is taking part in imperialism by proving his power and dignity to the natives presenting imperialism, he is using the elephant as a symbol of imperialism, representing power of a wild animal, that has control over the village. In doing so, he leads to the understanding that the power behind imperialism is only as strong as its rulers. Orwell’s moral values are challenged, in different ways, ironically enough while he too was the tormenter. He is faced with a very important decision, whether or not he should shoot the elephant. If he does shoot the elephant he will be a hero to the people: if he decides not to shoot the elephant, he would be giving in to the imperial force behind the elephant which he finds so unfair and evil. If he lets the elephant go free and unharmed, the natives will laugh at him, and make him feel inferior for not being able to protect the village. Orwell represents the elephant as a force, greater than he has the ability to kill. It takes him several shots to kill the elephant, and a prolonged period of time for the elephant to die.

Orwell’s decision to kill the elephant is a direct result of oppression, he demonstrates that this oppression may go deeper than the average man would imagine, noticeably interfere even with the lives of the oppressors. The elephants is considered a the controlling force over Orwell, which is compared to that of an imperialist. He justifies his actions,...
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