George Orwell’s Shooting an Elephant

Essay samples


GeorgeOrwell’s Shooting an Elephant

GeorgeOrwell’s Shooting an Elephant

Oftenclassified as an essay, &quotShooting an Elephant&quot by GeorgeOrwell is a short story which was initially published in literalmagazine titled NewWriting in1936, and later published two times a year up to 1946 (We,2011).It is worth noting that, the easy candidly narrates the experience ofan English narrator, thought to be George himself, who was requestedto take part in shooting an aggressive elephant during the time whenhe was on duty as a police officer. The setting of this essay isbased in Burma, currently referred as Myammar, in 1920s. During thistime, the country was an Indian province, and the action took placein Moulmein,a rice growing town near Andaman Sea.&nbspBurma became an Indianprovince on January 1886, a duration when India had been colonized bythe British (Literature Network, 2014).

Inthis essay, there are several characters as depicted by GeorgeOrwell. The Narrator, a young Englishman, had been hired as a Burma’spolice officer in 1920s. He highly oppose the British rule both inBurma as well as the rest of India, while he still resents to theridicule which he obtain from the locals who fail to realize he is ontheir side politically. There is the Sub-inspector, who requests thenarrator to aid him shot an elephant which was in the town. Othercharacters include police orderly, Indian constables as well as theother British who reacts to the elephants’ shooting by the narrator(LiteratureNetwork, 2014).Whencalled upon by the Sub-Inspectorto shoot the rogue elephant, the narrator arms himself with a 44Winchester Rifle having a low ability to kill an elephant, and justhoped to scare the animal with the noise produced (We,2011). However, the narrator requests for an elephant rifle as wellas five cartridges due to the fact that the animal has killed anative. Though he was only mandated to take care of the animal, thenarrator decides to test the elephant behavior by being twenty-fiveyards from it, where he later decides to shoot the animal as he feelshighly insecure. The natives get the meat and this where hispredicaments starts (Orwell, 2014).

Thereare various conflicts experienced by the narrator as seen in thisessay. One of the conflicts entails the occupation of Burma as wellas the rest of India by the British Empire as it was unjust. Theother conflict regards the humiliation experienced by the narrator bythe natives as he is seen as imperialist, and the other one was withthe narrator himself as he intensively struggled with his self-imageas well as conscience (Orwell, 2014).

Someof the themes that emerge from the essay include the evil broughtabout by imperialism. For instance, in “Shooting an Elephant”,the natives are humiliated in their own country and just reduced toinferiors, a factor which results to loss of freedom (Orwell, 2014).There is also the theme of resentment, which is seen as the nativesresents to the presence of British, as if they were the foreigners. It is also worth noting that, the mad elephant symbolizes the BritishEmpire which was which was raiding the Burma economy (LiteratureNetwork, 2014).

Oneof the lessons learnt from this easy is the struggle experienced byindividuals as they seek to do what is morally right. This is despitethe entire world swaying them to conform to the norms. Therefore, thedilemma faced by Orwell is not different from the one faced byindividuals when in a task which is against the norms of moralvirtues.


LiteratureNetwork (2014). Shooting An Elephant by George Orwell.Retrieved on 24 May 2014 from

Orwell,G. (2014). Shooting an Elephant. Available at

We,S. (2011). Shooting an Elephant of George Orwell – Short Story OrEssay on the Essence of Colonialism? GRIN Verlag