George Orwell, Shooting an Elephant

Robert Carson (Texas A&M (Qatar))
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George Orwell’s 1936 memoir-essay, “Shooting an Elephant”, recounts the writer’s killing of an unruly elephant when he was a policeman in colonial Burma. Orwell reflects on the injustice of the British Empire, on his own ambivalence about enforcing imperial rule, and on the quasi-theatrical demands of that enforcement. Critics have praised the prose style of “Shooting an Elephant”, and it often features as a model in post-secondary writing instruction.

“Shooting an Elephant” belongs at the center of any discussion of Orwell’s complex thoughts on imperialism. Interested readers should also consult “A Hanging”, “Marrakech”, “Reflections on Gandhi”, and his 1942 essay “Rudyard Kipling”. Likewise, the novel Burmese Days, and his analysis of the Empire in

3952 words

Citation: Carson, Robert. "Shooting an Elephant". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 17 October 2023 [, accessed 12 June 2024.]

2068 Shooting an Elephant 3 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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