Shooting an Elephant by George Orwell Analysis

Shooting an Elephant “Shooting an Elephant” is an essay written by George Orwell from 1938. The story is about his own experience when he was an English sub-divisional policeman in a town in India called Burma. At that time India was under the control of Britain and Orwell worked for The British Imperial Police, so he has to do orders even though his sympathy lie with the “natives”. One day Orwell was called out, because a tame elephant was ravaging the bazaar. With him he took his rifle, so he could protect him self, no intension of shooting the elephant.

The Burmese couldn’t do anything against the elephant because they haven’t any weapons and the elephant’s mahout had taken the wrong direction and was therefore about twelve hours’ journey away. When Orwell arrived to the quarter where the elephant latest had been seen, he gets conflicting information about where the elephant is, and is almost on his way home, when he sees a lady running after some kids, who have being looking at a corpse the elephant have killed.

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Then he is told that the elephant is only a few hundred yards away, a he sets out to find it. The whole population of the quarter was following him, with hope and excitement that he was going to shoot the elephant. When he came to the spot where the elephant was grassing, he obverses that there is no need to shoot it, but he knows that the whole population expected it, because they want the meet and to have a bit of fun.

He is caught in a trap, because the Burmese expected that he will shoot the elephant, and he realizes that he has to do it, even though he didn’t want to. As the white man he has to impress them, and fulfil his job. He is only a puppet pushed in that direction they want. If he failed, the crowed would laugh, and every white man in the east was not to be laughed at. Then he shoots it. The relationship between the inhabitants and Orwell is very strain.

Orwell’s sympathy and understanding lies with the “yellow faces”, as he call them, but he has to do his job, or his “duty”. He is against the oppression of the inhabitants, and want to chucked up his job, and do something better. But his is afraid of the reaction from the British Empire if he suddenly “changes side” and it is therefore necessary to do it in secret. As he explain it in his text: “ For at that time I had already made up my mind that imperialism was an evil thing and the sooner I chucked up my job and got out of it the better.

Theoretically – and secretly, of course – I was all for the Burmese and all against their oppressors, the British. ” He is again caught in a trap with his nation on one side and his sympathy with the natives on the other side. He express very clear that he hate his job, and even though he is friendly to the Burmese, he is an extremely hated person among them (with good reason). But Orwell have to do his job, like he have to shoot the elephant, otherwise he will live as an outcast in shame.

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Shooting an Elephant by George Orwell Analysis. (2018, Mar 07). Retrieved from