Shooting an Elephant by George Orwell

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What are the political and social themes in the essay "Shooting an Elephant?" 

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Gretchen Mussey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Orwell explores the relationship between the colonial ruling elite and the oppressed natives as well as the contradicting nature of imperialism throughout his classic short story "Shooting an Elephant." He also examines the social theme of peer pressure and analyzes the paradoxical nature of being a colonial authority figure. Orwell depicts how the oppressed natives resent the ruling European colonists and go out of their way to make life difficult for the imperialist regime's police officers and soldiers. The Burmese natives have no rights and are treated as second-class citizens in their home country by foreigners.

The protagonist and narrator of the story struggles with his conflicting feelings towards the Burmese natives. While he sympathizes with their plight, he despises them for the way they treat him. As an agent of the British regime, the police officer is a representative of the ruling class and is expected to behave resolutely, stoically, and callously at all times. Orwell...

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