In the essay Shooting an Elephant by George Orwell, the ideas of power, imperialism and the struggle of the British Empire are the central themes in the text. The essay is based on Orwell’s personal experience with the imperial police and the British Empire in Burma. The text begins when Orwell is expressing how much he is hated by the locals in Burma, how he was always taunted, made fun of, and laughed at. One day, he got a call saying there was an elephant that had broken its chain and escaped. It was going “must” and was acting aggressively towards the locals. He was ordered to keep the town safe from the elephant. George Orwell was born in Burma in 1903 and died in 1950. Orwell worked in Burma for five years, from 1922 to 1927 as a police officer. Orwell’s experiences in Burma made him become critical of how the British colonized and ruled other countries, which he witnessed firsthand through his work. In 1936, Orwell published Shooting an Elephant, which was inspired by his police work. He went on to publish many essays, short stories, and novels. The elephant 's fate is a symbol of the flawed nature of imperialism, because it highlights the power that the Burmese citizens have over the British authorities, and the helplessness of the police officers.
As a police officer in Burma, Orwell was always treated very poorly by the locals. The citizens treated him with no respect and no consideration, Orwell always wanted to be respected but the strong social divide and the rivalry between the British and the Burmese created tension. Orwell expresses his feelings of being powerless by saying: “I was only an absurd puppet pushed to and fro by the will of those yellow faces behind” (Orwell 246...
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...f the situation. Orwell thought: “And suddenly, I realized that I should have to shoot the elephant after all. The people expected it from me and I had got to do it; I could feel their two thousand wills pressing me forward, irresistibly” (Orwell 2459). Orwell didn’t have any other option than to shoot the elephant if he ever wanted to be seen as worthy and competent by the Burmese. It was going against everything that he believed in, but he thought it was right to preserve his dignity.
The elephant 's fate is a symbol of the flawed nature of imperialism and the power imbalance between the Burmese citizens and the British authorities. In the end, Orwell finds a deeper motive behind killing the elephant because he wants to be respected by the Burmese citizens and killing the elephant was a way for him to feel like he actually means something to the people of Burma.
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