Shooting an Elephant by George Orwell

Shooting an Elephant book cover
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In "Shooting an Elephant," who is Orwell's intended audience?

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kmj23 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The intended audience of this story is English or other European people, specifically those who have no direct knowledge or understanding of what imperial rule is really like.

We can see evidence of this intended audience from the very first paragraph of the essay when Orwell tries to explain what it is like to be the target of "anti-European feeling." He talks about being an "obvious target," for example, and how the Burmese routinely sneered and jeered at him. He is, therefore, directing his essay to people who do not have any experience of being a European in imperial Burma. He wants them to understand that it is not a straightforward, easy relationship between the imperialists and the natives. In fact, there is considerable hostility on both sides, and this makes the job very difficult.

As the story progresses, Orwell goes on to expose the real nature of the empire. Through his descriptions of the Burmese prisoners, for instance, he acts like an undercover reporter, exposing the unjust, cruel nature of the British regime. By providing this eyewitness evidence, Orwell shows his European audience just how exploitative this system really is.

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The main audience for Orwell in writing "Shooting an Elephant" was the English people as a whole.

The point of the essay was to argue that colonialism was a bad system -- that it hurt both the colonized and the colonizers.  He argues that the colonizers lose their integrity and their moral values when they rule over others.

Since he's arguing against colonialism, it makes sense for him to direct his argument at the people who could actually do something to either improve or end colonialism

The people who could do that were the English public.

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