In "Shooting an Elephant," what is Orwell's attitude to imperialism as revealed in the first two paragraphs?

In the first two paragraphs of "Shooting an Elephant," George Orwell reveals his hatred of imperialism and his guilt and frustration at having been a servant of the empire.

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In the first two paragraphs of the essay, Orwell reveals his hatred of imperialism, a system in which one country controls and runs another country for the more powerful country's benefit. Orwell says in the second paragraph that he hates the system "bitterly," especially as he sees its "dirty work" up close. He is shocked at the terrible conditions of the Burmese prisoners and the "scarred buttocks" of those who have been beaten. All of this fills him with guilt and a desire to see the system ended.

Yet Orwell explains his response to imperialism as more complex than a simple open-and-shut case of hatred. He also describes how his hatred of imperialism goes hand in hand with his often deep-seated hatred of the Burmese. He hates being jeered at and insulted by the native people. He understands the hatred as a result of imperialism: he is a symbol to the Burmese of the evil empire. Yet he also sees the Burmese people's behavior as a phenomenon that increases the tension between the rulers and the ruled. He writes that although he hates imperialism, he also thinks it would be the

greatest joy in the world ... to drive a bayonet into a Buddhist priest’s guts.

Orwell also describes himself as confused about what he is participating in and unable to speak about this confusion because of the veil of secrecy and silence imposed on imperial officers like himself.

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In the first two paragraphs of “Shooting an Elephant,” Orwell is pretty scathing about imperialism. In the second paragraph, he openly states that imperialism is an “evil thing” and that the sooner he quits his job, the better.

Although Orwell, in his role as a colonial police officer, has been regularly subjected to the hatred and ridicule of the natives, he is all for Burmese independence from the British. He is secretive about it, but his convictions are no less genuine for that. Orwell's hatred of imperialism can be seen in his description of the British as the “oppressors” of the Burmese. This is despite the fact that he himself is one of those oppressors.

What makes Orwell's job difficult is that he's caught between his hatred of imperialism and all it represents and his rage against the indigenous people who try to make it impossible for him to do his job properly. Orwell may sympathize with the Burmese on a theoretical level, but that doesn't mean he has to like them personally.

Even so, Orwell remains unshakeable in his conviction that the British Raj is an “unbreakable tyranny,” something that has been clamped down upon “the will of prostrate peoples.”

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At the beginning of "Shooting an Elephant," George Orwell discusses his hatred of imperialism, which he calls "an evil thing." Time has not modified this attitude greatly, though there is a slight dichotomy between his view of British imperialism in Burma as he writes the essay and the view he had while he was serving in the Imperial Police. He hated his job and everything that it entailed, but he did not know "that the British empire is dying" or consider the possibility that there are even worse ways of governing an empire.

The hatred of imperialism Orwell describes is an attitude both complicated and intensified by guilt at his own complicity in "the dirty work of Empire." In public, Orwell was himself the face of imperialism. Thousands of people who did not know him and could not guess how he really felt regarded him as a stereotypical Englishman who was in Burma to exercise authority for the greater glory of the empire. Having to keep up this public facade of authority, and having to act every day in ways that ran counter to his natural sympathies and political beliefs, led Orwell to resent imperialism on a personal level and hate it far more bitterly than the socialists (who were later to be his political allies) who regarded empire from a purely theoretical perspective.

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Orwell’s attitude towards Imperialism is one of antipathy, and this comes through quite strongly in the opening two paragraphs. The narrator of the story uses negative terms throughout to describe himself and his situation as a serving officer of empire. At the same time, although he hates the empire and his own part in it, feeling 'an intolerable sense of guilt’, he empathises with the natives only in theory; in actuality he resents and despises them even as they resent and despise him. He describes them variously as 'petty', 'bitter', 'wretched', 'hideous'. In fact, at one point he expresses frankly murderous feelings towards them:

With one part of my mind I thought of the British Raj as an unbreakable tyranny, as something clamped down, in saecula saeculorum, upon the will of prostrate peoples; with another part I thought that the greatest joy in the world would be to drive a bayonet into a Buddhist priest's guts.

 The narrator here displays not just hate but real viciousness towards his colonial subjects. However, it is important to realise that he is not naturally ill-disposed towards the colonised peoples; rather it is the whole system under which he serves that causes him to feel like this. Such destructive feelings are 'the normal by-products’ of Imperialism, as he sardonically remarks. It poisons his whole outlook and leaves him with nowhere to turn.

The narrator is looking back in retrospect to this time; his older, wiser self can see more clearly the confusion and rage that affected his younger self. Although he observes that the British Empire was not as bad as some other empires, he recognises that Imperialism has a detrimental effect on everyone, both the rulers and the ruled, and renders normal, decent human intercourse impossible. 

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