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This is an essay on the essay entitled “Shooting an Elephant” by George Orwell which he uses to illustrate his feelings about imperialism. “Shooting an elephant” was written in 1936. It is about George Orwell’s personal experience in British-ruled India when he was stationed there as an inexperienced soldier to protect the interests of the Queen. In the essay he had to kill a rampant elephant that had invaded the village though this was against his conscience. The essay will outline his feelings about imperialism and analyze Orwell’s position on imperialism as revealed in this context. The essay will include a strong thesis statement which will be supported by evidence derived from the text. Imperialism in this context is a government policy of extending its authority by territorial acquisition to other foreign countries (Farlex, 2010).
The thesis statement in this essay will be “imperialism hurts all, and so I hate it”. In the context of Orwell’s essay, this will mean that imperialism ends up hurting both the British and the Indians. Orwell’s feelings are the hostile feelings towards the British Imperialism. But he has no choice but to follow the orders - hence his wishes were offended. At his time as a police manning the town, he was subjected to various mistreatments and was hated by many residents (Literature Network, 2010). This only held a bitter feeling to the British imperialism (George- Orwell, 2003). In many occasions, young men insulted him when he was at a safer distance; an act which aggrieved him. In addition, the young Buddhist priests, stood on street corners and jeered at the Europeans as they passed. In one soccer match, the Burman referee took no offence when Orwell was tripped by a Burman and the crowd applauded this. He further states that a European woman in the streets would be spit at and hence although the British were the ones’s enforcing imperialism, they equally suffered. On the hand, the Indians were suppressed not to riot over anything. He also hated his job and the oppression that imperialism brought about as manifested on the prisoners.
On the day when an elephant invaded the village he was supposed to guard and maintain order. He had to do his duty of maintaining order by killing the elephant. The crowd was expecting him to shoot it after the damage it has caused on the Indian huts, foods, and even killing one man. It has also destroyed government property in form of the councils’ van. His conscience was on sparing the elephant (oppapers, 2010) considering it was then peaceful, its owner and its value. But he could not bear the imagination of what would happen if the elephant attacked and killed him. The crowd would laugh at him. He was on a dilemma of shooting or not. And though the custodian of imperialism, he was hurt by this scenario and hated it. He killed the elephant against his conscience. An Indian man had been killed by the elephant and in Europe; young men said that the elephant was more valuable than the Indian man (Orwell, 1903-1950). The owner of the elephant was an Indian under imperialism and hence could do nothing about the killing of his elephant. Though Orwell knew what was right, he did the wrong thing and was not happy about it. The elephant could symbolize Burma and it’s struggle to remain alive under imperialism. It can also mean the decline of British rule in Burma (Browning, 2009). And the butchering that took place (answers, 2010) symbolizes the Barman’s hate of imperialism. It hurts in both ways (enotes, 2010).Hence, the thesis statement.