Imperialism and colonialism in Shooting an Elephant

Imperialism is the policy of extending a country’s empire and influence. It is no doubt, an evil way of encroaching foreign land and represses the natives of a country. In “Shooting an Elephant” George Orwell shows the by products of imperialism as well as his hatred against the imperialistic British rule.

Owing to tyrannical imperialistic rule, these by-products are created. It has created hatred between the rulers and the ruled. Even it compels any Anglo-Indian official to hate his job as he has to do many unpleasant things against his will.

Our writer was the sub-divisional police officer in Moulmein in Burma. Though he was an agent of the British imperial power but he considered imperialism an evil thing. He saw the tyranny of the British rule in the colony at base quarters. 

The wretched prisoners huddling in the stinking cases of the lockups, the gray cowed faces of the long-term convicts and scared bullocks of the men bore the testimony of the dirty trails of imperialism. This oppression and tyranny generated hatred in the Burmese people for the British as well as the Anglo-Indian officials of British colonial power.

As a result, the white men in the East were the victims of anti-European feelings of the natives. Though the local people had no guts to raise a riot against the British Raj, they did not hesitate to insult the Anglo-Indian in various ways. If they got chance, they would spit betel juice over a white woman’s dress. They used to jeer at the author as he was one of the agents of the British colonial rule.

He became an object of ridicule to the young Burmese and Buddhist priests who would harass him in various ways. When a swift footed Burmese tripped him on the football field, the crowd yelled with heinous laughter. They used to insult him from a safe distance. Standing on the street corners, the Buddhist priests would often laugh at him.

On the contrary, the author was sometimes so much enraged by the behaviour of the natives that it would be the greatest joy in the world for him to drive a bayonet into a Buddhist priest’s guts. In fact, “feeling like these”, says the writer, “are the normal by-products of imperialism”.

A conscientious white officer was thus trapped between his hatred of the empire he served and his rage and his rage against the evil spirited local people who tried to make his job impossible.

In fact, all the Anglo-Indian officers would share the writer’s attitude toward the Burmese. All the hatred and feelings of the local Burmese as well as the Anglo-Indians are inevitable result of imperialism.
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