A Summary of "Shooting an Elephant"

About this sample

About this sample


Words: 471 |

Page: 1|

3 min read

Published: Mar 16, 2024

Words: 471|Page: 1|3 min read

Published: Mar 16, 2024

Table of contents

  1. Imperialism and Dehumanization
  2. The Elephant's Rampage
  3. Psychological Impact of Imperialism
  4. Conclusion

George Orwell's essay "Shooting an Elephant" is a compelling exploration of the complex dynamics between the colonizer and the colonized. Set in British-ruled Burma, the essay offers a candid account of Orwell's experience as a police officer tasked with the responsibility of handling an elephant rampage. Despite being published in 1936, the themes of power, imperialism, and moral dilemma depicted in the essay remain relevant in contemporary society. This essay aims to analyze the various nuances of Orwell's "Shooting an Elephant" and its implications in today's context.

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Imperialism and Dehumanization

Orwell's essay sheds light on the intricacies of imperialism and the internal conflicts it creates for the colonizer. The central thesis of the essay revolves around the dehumanizing effects of imperialism, both on the colonized and the colonizer. Through vivid and introspective narration, Orwell reveals the psychological burden of wielding power over the Burmese people, ultimately leading to the shooting of the elephant. This act becomes symbolic of the inherent brutality and moral decay perpetuated by imperialism.

The Elephant's Rampage

Orwell's account of the elephant's rampage serves as the first major point supporting the thesis. The elephant, a powerful and uncontrollable force, mirrors the oppressive nature of British imperialism. Orwell's struggle to control the elephant reflects the futility and desperation of maintaining dominance over a subjugated people. The evidence of this can be found in Orwell's depiction of the elephant as a symbol of resistance against colonial authority. Through this lens, the shooting of the elephant becomes a metaphor for the violent and unjust methods employed by the colonizer to assert dominance.

Psychological Impact of Imperialism

The second major point delves into the psychological impact of imperialism on the colonizer. Orwell's internal conflict and moral dilemma in shooting the elephant provide additional evidence to support the thesis. His sense of guilt and shame at succumbing to the expectations of the Burmese people highlights the dehumanizing effect of wielding power over others. This internal struggle humanizes Orwell and exposes the corrosive nature of imperialism on the oppressor. The implications of this evidence underscore the moral and ethical quandaries that arise from the imposition of colonial rule.

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"Shooting an Elephant" offers a poignant commentary on the complexities of imperialism and its far-reaching consequences. Orwell's introspective narrative serves as a powerful indictment of the dehumanizing effects of colonialism on both the colonized and the colonizer. The essay prompts readers to critically examine the moral and ethical implications of wielding power over others, resonating with contemporary discourses on social justice and human rights. In a world still grappling with the legacies of imperialism, Orwell's essay remains a poignant reminder of the enduring impact of colonial oppression. As such, further research on the psychological, social, and political ramifications of imperialism is warranted to gain a deeper understanding of its enduring legacy.

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This essay was reviewed by
Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

Cite this Essay

A Summary Of “Shooting An Elephant”. (2024, March 15). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 29, 2024, from
“A Summary Of “Shooting An Elephant”.” GradesFixer, 15 Mar. 2024,
A Summary Of “Shooting An Elephant”. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 29 May 2024].
A Summary Of “Shooting An Elephant” [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Mar 15 [cited 2024 May 29]. Available from:
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