Explain the elephant as a symbol of British Empire in "Shooting an Elephant" by George Orwell.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The elephant in the short story can symbolize the British Empire in several ways. Initially, the narrator receives word that the elephant has been terrorizing the village and destroying everything in its path. The destructive nature of the elephant can represent the British Empire's oppressive force through its imperialist conquests. Colonies like Burma suffer under the oppressive British rule, where the native citizens are marginalized and discriminated against. At the beginning of the story, the narrator mentions that he has witnessed the "dirty work of Empire" firsthand and is sickened at its treatment of the native people. Similar to British rule, the elephant proceeds to raid fruit stalls, destroy vehicles, and crush defenseless...

(The entire section contains 2 answers and 362 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team