Shoot the elephant

Humanities assesment by Angelique M

What is it?

Shoot the elephant is an essay written by George Orwell. It is about a colonel/ officer that is called upon to shoot an elephant on a rampage. He does not want to shoot the elephant but does it so that he will not be thought of as a fool by the villagers in Burma. The essay is a primary source as it is written from the officers perspective.

From this essay we can learn a lot about imperialism. Imperialism means to extend a countries power and take other countries or lands with force. In the essay the people of Burma are really not happy with being colonized by another country by force. The do not seem to like the officer as he is from that country and evidently do not seem to think that he is very good at his role. The officer is treated very badly by the people of Burma and is afraid of being thought a fool so as said above he shot the elephant to avoid being a fool.

The essay has a sad ending as the elephant dies from multiple shots as the officer tried to put him out of pain by shooting him around 10 times.


What point of veiw is it written:

The essay is written from the officers perspective. His thoughts and feelings are communicated throughout the essay.

Why was the source created:

I think that the source was created to show people that sometimes people will do anything to fit in and be accepted even if it means you have to kill a living creature. The officer had to deal with being shouted insults at every day. He couldn't go anywhere without receiving a rude look from a passer by. Imperialism had a great affect on his life. He was a British person living in a foreign country and was meant to have power over people and help them. He received nothing in return and thought that killing the elephant instead of waiting for the owner to come would help him be accepted into the foreign community. He also knew that if he didnt kill the elephant more lives would be put at risk.

The prevailing sentiments of imperialism:

( the attitudes towards imperialism at that time)

The attitudes towards Imperialism at that time were quite negative. The burman people did not seem to want to look at the positives of the situation or look at the bright side. If they were in a more positive state of mind they maybe would have realised that Britain colonising burma would help their economy and bring more wealth to the country. This would mean better lives for them.

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Qr code

This code leads to a useful website

Please note that as it is someone's opinion it is bias

Identifying bias

Shooting the elephant is a bias source as you can only read about the situation from the police officers point of veiw. You only get to know the officers thoughts, feelings and attitude towards the situation. You do not know the other side of the story ... The burman people's side of the story. Maybe they were jealous of the officer.

So really it may not be that reliable. Because maybe the officer changed the story to suit him and make it seem like he was in the right.

Maybe George Orwell is only trying to show people what it's like to be moved to a newly colonized country and have to try and make sure that everyone is doing the right thing. People do not like to listen to people if they feel like the person is in the wrong.

Imperialsm can affect people greatly and maybe this is what caused the people of Burma to be so rude to the officer.

George Orwell wrote the essay to show people what things were really like and how hard it was to some people. He wanted to make history more enjoyable and change the way that we think.

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This a comic based on a scene from shooting an elephant
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Shooting an elephant book cover

This is a cover of a published version of shooting an elephant

Personal opinion

I think that shooting an elephant can be used to a good extent as it gives the reader an insight to what it was like back in the time of imperialism. You can see that people would kill an animal to fit in and be accepted. Although the source is quite bias it can be very useful.

As a matter of fact I learnt quite alot from it.

I learnt that imperialism was thought to be a bad and negative thing to some people and people rebelled against being in control of other people. Many people did not want to accept the good things about imperialism.


What does bias mean

This video explains what bias means

Sites used