How Is Orwell's Essay "Shooting an Elephant" Related to Imperialism?

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George Orwell's essay "Shooting an Elephant" chronicles his experience in British-ruled Burma and his views on imperialism. Orwell was born and brought up in what is now known today as Burma. At the time of his birth, Burma was a province of colonial India, which was under British rule.

The essay describes an incident involving Orwell in Burma while he served with the imperialist police. It represents the moral dilemma so many imperialists felt, ruling over a country that was not theirs and being oppressors of the people in that country. Specifically, the essay describes an incident in which Orwell repeatedly shot an elephant that had overtaken and overrun a marketplace. His forceful display represented the rule of the British over the Burmese, or essentially, imperialism. This act tortured him internally, because he did not believe in imperialism and he sympathized with the Burmese.