Shooting an Elephant by George Orwell

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In "Shooting an Elephant," analyze how using a cultural criticism lens better helps the reader to gain meaning from the text.

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When using a cultural criticism lens, one looks at a text from the perspective of social location. Social location refers to a person's age, gender, social and economic status, education, and ethnicity: the entire constellation of factors that determine how a person views the world. People from different social locations tend to view the world in very different ways, because their needs and concerns vary.

Orwell, in this essay, is careful to distinguish between the cultural perceptions of the Burmese and their British imperialist rulers. The narrator both feels sympathy for the Burmese, because he understands they have been oppressed and mistreated by the British—he mentions the prisons and the brutal physical punishments meted out—but also, from his own perspective, feels anger at the Burmese due to the hostility with which they treat him. They are always seeking ways to humiliate him and bring him down.

By looking through the lens of two cultures trapped in conflict, we can better...

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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