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The Depictions of Imperialism in Shooting an Elephany by George Orwell Essay

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Shooting an Elephant” is an autobiographically influenced short story written by George Orwell and published in 1936. It deals with the inner conflict of an imperial police officer in Burma who feels pressured by the Burmese and forced to kill an outraged elephant in order to prove himself and his status as an imperial police officer.
The short story can be divided into two parts. In the first two paragraphs the narrator introduces himself and talks about his life and experience in working as a “sub-divisional police officer” in the town of Moulmein in Lower Burma. He also talks about his ambiguous attitude towards the Burmese people who ridicule and mock him because of anti-European feelings and towards the British Empire whose “dirty work” he now has to witness in his job. In the second part of the short story the narrator tells the readers about a specific incident, already indicated in the title of the story, which gave him a better understanding of imperialism and the way it works. One day in his service as an imperial police officer he is asked to stop an outraged elephant from ravaging the town and attacking the people. He takes along a rifle just in case he needs protection from the wild animal and starts on his way to find the elephant and see for himself what is happening. When a man is killed by the outraged elephant and the Burmese people follow the police officer on his way to the elephant he realizes that the Burmese expect him to shoot the elephant. He knows it would not be right to kill the animal because of its worth and because it has started to calm down and would be the tame, harmless animal it is used to be. But under the pressure of the crowd the police man does not see leaving the elephant alive as an option...


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...iptive paragraphs ,which guide the reader through the shooting of the elephant, and the police officer's inner monologues which reveal his thoughts on the situation and his attitude towards imperialism, the Burmese people and the British Empire. While the descriptive paragraphs are mostly summarized and do not have the same time of their occurrence, the inner monologues are written in a time pause and the narrator reflects on what is happening at the moment. However when it comes to the point of the shooting itself the time is stretched in order to emphasize the narrator’s inner conflict and to build suspense.
Through the use of this particular voice and focalization the author achieved to compose a convincing, insightful and reflective way of presenting his own inner conflict, the situation in Burma during the early 20th century and the faith of the British Empire.



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