Shotting An Elephant: The Inhumanity Of Imperialism
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George Orwell is known to be a very political person evidenced by his writings, the most popular ones being 1984 and Animal Farm. Shooting an Elephant is a short narrative of an event that purportedly happened to Orwell while stationed in Burma as a police officer. There is no strong evidence to support this but the story tells of a man’s call for an end to imperialism in the East. British colonialism during the period when this story was written was already waning and their control over the Indian peninsula was slowly fading. The narrator confirmed this in the story saying, “I did not even know that the British Empire is dying, still less did I know that it is a great deal better that the younger empires that are going to supplant it”.

Shooting an Elephant tells the story of a police officer who one day was confronted with an elephant that run amuck, killing an Indian, вЂ?a black Dravidian coolie’ who according to the Europeans was not worth as much as an elephant (вЂ?because an elephant was worth more than any damn Coringhee coolie’). The narrator told of how Anti-European feeling was running very high in Burma at that time that a “European woman who went through the bazaars alone somebody would probably spit betel juice over her dress”. He would patrol his area with “sneering yellow faces of young men” and “insults hooted” after him. The Buddhist priests, he said were the worst of all who do nothing but “stand on street corners and jeer at Europeans”.

Orwell was very demonstrative of his desire for self-determination of the Burmese and other nationalities under British colonial rule, saying “theoretically — and secretly, of course — I was all for the Burmese and all against their oppressors, the British”.

He was even vocal about his distaste for the imperialistic aims of the British empire declaring that �imperialism was an evil thing” and how it affects people have been more psychological than it was physical. As a police officer, the narrator wanted to get out of the job. The main character was a torn man, between following strict orders and following his own conscience, he knew that he would still lose in the end: “All I knew was that I was stuck between my hatred of the empire I served and my rage against the evil-spirited little beasts who tried to make my job impossible. With one part of my mind I thought of the British Raj as an unbreakable tyranny, as something clamped down, in saecula saeculorum, upon the will of prostrate peoples; with another part I thought that the greatest joy in the world would be to drive a bayonet into a Buddhist priests guts”.

Even his view of the Burmese people was a duality, thinking

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British Colonialism And British Empire. (July 21, 2021). Retrieved from