In "Shooting an Elephant", what is Orwell's opinion of the Burmese?Of the British Raj? What conflict in him do these attitudes create?

2 Answers | Add Yours

troutmiller's profile pic

troutmiller | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted on

Orwell is very conflicted by his position in this story.  He is stuck in a position of an authority he does not support.  He had "already made up his mind that imperialism was an evil thing and the sooner [he] chucked up [his] job and got out of it the better."  His biggest problem was that he supported the Burmese.  He hated seeing the "dirty work of Empire at close quarters."  He saw "the wretched prisoners huddling in the stinking cages of the lockups..."  He felt guilt for what the British were doing to the Burmese, but he worked for them and had to do his job.

The worst part about his position is that the people he really truly supported (the Burmese) made his job very difficult.  He sees the British Raj as "an unbreakable tyranny, as something clamped down upon the will of prostrate peoples." Yet, the way that the Burmese and the Buddist priests treated him made him want to violently fight back.   These priests were the worst and made his daily work difficult and frustrating.  That would laugh and jeer at him and even throw things at him.  Little did they know how he really felt, but they made his situation worse for taking their frustrations out on someone who sympathized with them.

We’ve answered 318,912 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question