Shooting an Elephant by George Orwell

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In "Shooting of an Elephant" what did the experience teach Orwell about the "real nature" of imperialism?

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Name VonRueden eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Orwell sees the real nature of imperialism as an effort made by the despotic governments to control their own people. His famous description is that "when the white man turns tyrant, it is his own freedom that he destroys."

We—who have never served on the force of an occupying colonial power, as Orwell did in Burma—are perhaps not able fully to appreciate his emotional reaction to events as they took place in his story. But it is still possible to critique his narrative of the elephant incident from our own latter-day point of view. There is an element of truth in his analysis, but Orwell's sense of being manipulated, of being turned into a "hollow, posing dummy, the conventionalised figure of a sahib," is perhaps overstated. One might ask if Orwell, in seeing himself as...

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quddoos | Student

It taught him that the expectations of the governed caused the governing people (the "imperialists") to do what the governed expected even when the "imperialist" knew without a doubt that it was the wrong thing to do.