The narrator of "Shooting an Elephant" is a conflicted but unflinchingly self-aware individual caught in a oppressive colonial system he despises but colludes with. He is in many ways a prototype of Winston Smith in Orwell's novel 1984, an everyman caught in a damaging system, but unlike Winston, he doesn't rebel, unless we interpret his essay as that act.
He is like Winston in hating the system:
For at that time I had already made up my mind that imperialism was an evil thing and the sooner I chucked up my job and got out of it the better.
And like Winston, he secretly opposes "Big Brother," in this case casting the British government in that role:
Theoretically—and secretly, of course—I was all for the Burmese and all against their oppressors, the British.
Like Winston, he is part of the system of oppression and on the lower end of the spectrum. Winston is outer Party, a part of the elite but in a peripheral role, and likewise, the narrator is British, but a lower-level flunky.
Also, like Winston, he is conflicted: he hates the system, but like Winston has violent fantasies that mirror the violence of the system he hates. Winston has violent fantasies about Julia until he gets to know her, and enjoys a war film in which proles are blown up, while the narrator notes:
With one part of my mind I thought of the British Raj as an unbreakable tyranny ... with another part I thought that the greatest joy in the world would be to drive a bayonet into a Buddhist priest's guts.
He is intelligent and able to analyze his emotions as not those of a sociopath but as caused by a corrupt system:
Feelings like these are the normal byproducts of imperialism; ask any Anglo-Indian official, if you can catch him off duty.
Finally, he reveals himself to be ruthlessly honest about himself, which leads to a sense of self-loathing for colluding with a system he knows is wrong. He kills the elephant to save face, but doesn't try to rationalize why he did it or cloak the action in honor. He realizes he is no hero:
I often wondered whether any of the others grasped that I had done it solely to avoid looking a fool.