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Shooting an elephant and other essays

Shooting an elephant and other essays



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Dear Twitpic Community – thank you for all the wonderful photos you have taken over the years. We have now placed Twitpic in an archived state. Shooting an Elephant” is an essay by English writer George Orwell, first shooting an elephant and other essays in the literary magazine New Writing in late 1936 and broadcast by the BBC Home Service on 12 October 1948. The essay describes the experience of the English narrator, possibly Orwell himself, called upon to shoot an aggressive elephant while working as a police officer in Burma.

Because the locals expect him to do the job, he does so against his better judgment, his anguish increased by the elephant’s slow and painful death. Orwell spent some of his life in Burma in a position akin to that of the narrator, but the degree to which his account is autobiographical is disputed, with no conclusive evidence to prove it to be fact or fiction. Anglo-Burmese wars took place, and incorporated it into its Indian Empire. It was administered as a province of India until 1937, when it became a separate, self-governing colony, attaining its independence on January 4, 1948. Moulmein used to be full of elephants” haul logs in the timber firms.

Ordinary tamed elephants have been part of Burmese life for centuries,the rare and revered white elephant, is believed in Buddhist legend to be a symbol of purity and power. Orwell writes how he was trapped between his own resentment towards the Empire and the Burmese people’s resentment towards him. As a member of the ruling power, he is cornered into doing what the “natives” expect of him: “He wears a mask, and his face grows to fit it. A passport photo of Orwell, taken during his time in the Burmese police force. In Moulmein, the narrator—Orwell, writing in the first person—is a police officer during a period of intense anti-European sentiment. Although his intellectual sympathies lie with the Burmese, his official role makes him a symbol of the oppressive imperial power.



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