Shooting an Elephant

what was orwells purpose for writing shooting an elephant?

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"An anti-imperialist essayist, Orwell frequently and clearly states his displeasure with colonial Britain: "I had already made up my mind that imperialism was an evil thing... I was all for the Burmese and all against their oppressors, the British." Trapped in a system not of his own making, he adds, "all I knew was that I was stuck between my hatred of the empire I served ... I was only an absurd puppet pushed to and fro by the will of those yellow faces behind." Reflectively, the narrator realizes that being forced to impose strict laws and to shoot the elephant--he states his feelings against the act, but submits after comprehending he "had got to shoot the elephant"--illustrates an inherent problem of hegemony: "when the white man turns tyrant it is his own freedom that he destroys." By enforcing the strict British rule, he is forfeiting his freedom while concurrently oppressing the Burmese. A call to end imperialism, "Shooting an Elephant", ironically, appeals to the British to cease colonialism to maintain their freedom."

Ultimately, it is symbolic of Orwell being obliged to enforce the laws of an imperial power with which he later came to disagree, Orwell's distaste for totalitarian regimes developed and have shaped the novels he wrote.

See 1984.