The title of the narrative is shooting an elephant by George Orwell. The essay is about a rogue elephant and how a young white man, who was a sub-division police administrator in a city, in Burma, was assigned to get rid of it (Orwell/Literature network). Colonial Burma is the place where the plot of the essay is set. Orwell was a man caught between what was right and dedication to his own people. Orwell’s focal point of the essay is to illustrate that divergent to the natives being the ones under the control of the crown, it was the white man who was controlled by the natives as he had to appear in the way the natives expected him to behave. This is a clear manifestation that the person deemed to be in charge did not have free will.
The main thing that Orwell is trying to convey is the Irony and deceit that comes with Imperialism, the story about the elephant is Orwell’s way of showing the perils of imperialism on the people who lived with it even those who detested it. “Theoretically – and secretly, of course – I was all for the Burmese and all against their oppressors, the British.” (Orwell/Literature network). It was obvious that Orwell hated his job and what the British crown represented in Burma, yet when it came to down to it, he went ahead to do exactly what he detested. The British was the rulers yet, the very natives they rule controlled and they did not realize it . Orwell had no intention of shooting the elephant and only did it because the natives expected it from a sahib. The only reason he had carried a gun was for defense, but the natives willed him to shoot the elephant he being the sahib notwithstanding.
Imperialism involves maintaining unequal relationships between two states mostly in an empire in all facets of life. The Europeans considered themselves superior to the natives, as they the natives were beneath elephants; none the less the killing of the elephant would draw interests from the two races in the same way”…. It was a bit of fun to them, as it would be to an English crowd” (Orwell /Literature network). The Burmese society was a society where elephants were regarded highly, they were used as working animals, but they did not protest the killing of an innocent, so to speak, elephant. A notable fact, though is that as the elephant destroyed their homes, sources of livelihood and even killed one of their own no-one seemed interested, in fact, they anticipated it and were eagerly waiting for the meat that would be coming from the carcass since the elephant belonged to an Indian and he was helpless in that society. It did not occur to the two thousand or so spectators that on another day it could one of them in the shoes of the Indian (George 33).
This portiion is a clear expression of how opportunistic human beings can be and the lengths they will reach to pursue their own interests at any expense. Orwell had no intention of killing the elephant but he would be the laughing stock of the people if he let the elephant go. In the end Orwell celebrates the death of the Indian because it gave the right to shoot, but he admits that it was just an excuse and knew that the real reason he shot the elephant was to save face. In the set-up, the Burmese society loathed and went to show openly show utter disgust at the Europeans and hardly took notice of the likes of a sub-division police officer; despite knowing these facts he felt the need to prove and impress a people that would never appreciate him. No sooner had he shot the elephant that they raced past him with buckets to the real reason they wanted the elephant dead: the meat. They did not even notice when he left. One would expect that they would be grateful to the person who “risked” his own life; I use risk because Orwell was uneducated and did not recognize how to grip a rifle or a rogue elephant, and wiped out a mad elephant that was causing them trouble.
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This essay is a peak into the normal lives of human beings who will do things despite their conscience knowing that they are wronging others, but they would rather do the mistaken thing than do the correct thing and humiliate themselves.