Shooting An Elephant Purpose


Orwell’s essay “Shooting an Elephant” is about his experience as a British colonial policeman in Burma. He is forced to shoot an elephant against his will, even though he does not want to kill the animal. The purpose of the essay is to explore the complex nature of colonialism and imperialism.

Orwell shows how the British colonial system depended on the use of force and violence to maintain control over the native population. He also highlights the hypocrisy of the British imperialists, who claimed to be civilizing the “savages” while at the same time inflicting great cruelty on them. In the end, Orwell comes to realize that imperialism is an unjust and evil system that must be opposed.

The major theme of Orwell’s “Shooting an Elephant” is the impact of an oppressor on both the oppressed and himself. The text offers several indicators that support the main idea. First, the writer mentioned about a European woman’s treatment when she went to bazaars alone.

She was “followed by men, laughing and making remarks in a foreign language.” This suggests that the people in Burma were not very welcoming to Europeans. Second, when Orwell shot the elephant, he felt “a queer feeling of guilt” because he realized that the animal did not deserve to die.

However, he had to shoot it anyway because shooting an elephant was seen as a brave act and he did not want to lose face in front of the locals. Lastly, after killing the elephant, Orwell reflects on how his actions resulted in the suffering of an innocent creature. He concludes that imperialism is not only cruel to those who are oppressed, but also to those who do the oppressing.

This is why security had been tightened. At the time, Europeans were hated because they had conquered Burma. When the narrator was told to shoot an elephant, even if it wasn’t part of his plans, his freedom to act was curtailed. Orwell had a tough decision to make regarding whether or not to kill the elephant in the tale. He estimated that keeping the elephant alive would cost at least a hundred pounds.

However, if he refused to shoot the elephant, it would have been a direct challenge to the authority of the empire. In the end, Orwell decided that he would rather be thought a fool than risk his own safety by disobeying orders. He felt like a criminal, going against his own conscience, when he shot the elephant. The purpose of this story was to show how imperialism can cause someone to act against their own moral code.

Orwell was stationed in Burma as a British imperial police officer. He didn’t agree with the empire’s treatment of the Burmese people. This story is based on a true event that happened during his time there. In “Shooting an Elephant,” Orwell uses rhetorical devices such as irony and similes to highlight the problems with imperialism.

The story is set in Burma, during a time when it was under British rule. The narrator is a police officer who is hated by the locals because he represents the empire. One day, he’s called to deal with an elephant that has gone rogue. The elephant has already killed one person and destroyed some property. The crowd of people wants the animal to be put down.

The narrator doesn’t want to kill the elephant, but he feels like he has to. If he doesn’t, it will be seen as a challenge to the authority of the empire. He goes through with it, even though it goes against his conscience. In the end, he feels like a criminal.

The purpose of the story is to highlight the problems with imperialism. The narrator is forced to act against his own moral code because of the empire. The story also shows how the locals are treated like animals by the British.

The tusks of a slain elephant, on the other hand, would only be worth around five pounds if they were shot dead. Furthermore, he anthropomorphized the elephant by calling it “he.” He stated, “It appears to be that shooting him would be murder.” (519) In addition, because a life has been lost, precautions must be taken so that the elephant does not escape again and cause damage to the community.

Given all of these reasons, Orwell had decided to spare the elephant’s life but he “felt a little sick.”(519)

It is clear that Orwell was very conflicted whether he should kill the elephant or not. On one hand, he understands that it is his duty as a colonial police officer to protect the property and citizens of the British Empire. However, on the other hand, he does not want to kill the innocent animal for something that it did not do on purpose. In the end, Orwell decides to shoot the elephant, but he feels great remorse for doing so.

The main idea of Shooting an Elephant is that colonialism is immoral and unjust. The purpose of the essay is to show how the author was conflicted between his duty as a colonial police officer and his own conscience. He ultimately decided to kill the elephant, but felt great remorse for doing so. This essay is significant because it shows how even those who are in positions of power can be victims of colonialism.

This is a list of reasons why Orwell began to reconsider his choice. His identity as an imperialist that rules over his fellow Burmese was another compelling reason for him to fire. He would be labeled a coward if he did not kill the elephant as the villagers anticipated. This will have an unfavorable influence on attempts to establish law and enforce it in Burma, as well as unenforceable laws already in existence.

“I had got to shoot the elephant. I had committed myself to doing it when I sent for the rifle” (Orwell, 3).

The Imperial rulers during that time were not only feared but also loathed. This is because of the harsh and unjust treatment that they meted out to the local people. The Burmese viewed the British as a cruel and heartless race that did not understand or care about their way of life. In their eyes, the British were nothing more than a bunch of occupying foreigners who were there to exploit them and take away their freedom.

It is clear from the text that Orwell does not agree with the imperialist policies of his government, and he is deeply conflicted about his role in enforcing them. He is clearly uncomfortable with the power that he wields over the lives of others, and he does not want to use it in a way that will cause suffering. However, he feels like he has no choice but to follow orders and do what is expected of him, even if it goes against his conscience.

The main idea of “Shooting an Elephant” is that Orwell was conflicted about his role as an imperialist enforcer in Burma. He did not agree with the policies of his government, but felt like he had no choice but to follow orders and do what was expected of him. This conflict led him to make the decision to shoot an elephant, which caused him great personal anguish.


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