In the essay "Shooting an Elephant," how does George Orwell feel about imperialism? What would be a good thesis?

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Susan Hurn eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Orwell makes it clear that he has very strong feelings against British imperialism as it existed in Burma during his residence there as a British policeman. He was obeyed grudgingly by the Burmese who felt hatred and contempt for him and his uniform. Sometimes he was mocked by them in ways that made him hate in return, a feeling he did not enjoy or approve of in himself. He shoots the elephant, not because he wants to or needs to, but because the large crowd around him expects him to do it. He can't look weak to these people; he has an image to maintain. We can infer, also, that because he was outnumbered, he felt vulnerable in this situation. Also, the setting of the story as Orwell describes it shows that the Burmese lived in poverty. His attitude might be summed up as this: He believed British imperialism adversely affected all who lived under it, Burmese and British alike.

I think any thesis that makes it clear that Orwell rejected imperialism would be a good one, however you might choose to phrase it.

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