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Shooting an Elephant Essay | Critical Essay #1

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Critical Essay #1

Bertonneau holds a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from UCLA and is the author of nearly forty scholarly articles exploring the anthropological aspects of American, European, and Classical poetry and prose. In the following essay, he tries to understand "Shooting an Elephant" in an anthropological and non-political way.

The proper question to pose regarding George Orwell's "Shooting an Elephant" is not: what does it tell us about the British Empire or the politics of imperialism? (That, in any case, is always a rhetorical question.) The question is, rather, what does Orwell's compact masterpiece tell us about human nature, and therefore about the universal morality which grows from an awareness of that nature? In answering this question, the critic might well stumble on some replies to the other, the usual, and by implication the misleading, question. For it is possible that the most important phenomenon of empire is simply...

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This section contains 2,335 words
(approx. 8 pages at 300 words per page)
Purchase our Shooting an Elephant Study Guide
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Shooting an Elephant from BookRags and Gale's For Students Series. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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