In George Orwell’s “Shooting an Elephant,” the author recounts a situation in Burma where he was forced to shoot a rogue elephant. Orwell’s emotions about the incident are intricate, mirroring the conflicting pressures he experienced as a colonial officer in Burma. On one hand, he felt he had no choice but to shoot the elephant due to the Burmese people expecting him to do so as a representative of the British Empire. On the other hand, he felt remorseful for killing the elephant, which he described as a “great beast” he did not want to take the life of. His feelings demonstrate the complexities of colonialism and the moral dilemmas that come with it. He was aware of the violence and suffering his actions caused, and the story serves as a powerful critique of the oppressive nature of colonialism and its dehumanizing effects on both the colonizers and the colonized.
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