Essay on shooting an elephant Wikipedia

In “Shooting an Elephant,” George Orwell describes his experience of shooting an elephant.

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Even bare, bleached old elephant bones will stop a group if they have not seen them before. It is so predictable that filmmakers have been able to get shots of elephants inspecting skeletons by bringing the bones from one place and putting them in a new spot near an elephant pathway or a water hole. Inevitably the living elephants will feel and move the bones around, sometimes picking them up and carrying them away for quite some distance before dropping them. It is a haunting and touching sight and I have no idea why they do it.

In the end, due to Orwell's decision, the elephant lay dying in a pool of blood.

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His essay “Shooting an Elephant” describes his feelings of frustration in attempting to perform his duty – shooting a mad elephant discovered to have broken its chain, destroyed property, and killed a man – while avoiding the ridicule of the local population.

George Orwell's essay, Shooting an Elephant, deals with the evils of imperialism.

As Moss, Poole, and many others have eloquently argued, these grisly interventions take a very short view of ecological cycles and elephant populations’ ability to self-regulate and adapt to their environment. Births go down in the years following a major drought, for instance; since elephants’ reproduction cycles are so long, manually adjusting the population year to year means intervening in a process that has not played itself out yet. In (2009), G. A. Bradshaw attributes the mentality to , , and to the martial roots of park management in Africa, quoting South African journalist Mike Cadman:

With his final decision, the elephant finally lay dying in front of thousands of people.


The African elephant is the larger of the two.

hile elephants’ exhibition value has brought serious harm to them through the centuries, worse than that is the appeal of an elephant worth more dead than alive. Avocational safari hunters such as Teddy Roosevelt and his friend Henry Fairfield Osborn, major figures in the early conservation movement, loved the elephant in all its wildness and compiled a great deal of information on its behavior and . The very awe of its magnificence and power was what made the elephant such desirable game. The hunter, in tracking and conquering his prey, seeks in some way to seize for himself that glorious force of life the animal displays. The catch is that, as soon as you have shot the animal, that force of life is gone — the instant it is at your touch it has already eluded you, belonging to no one anymore. Famous photographs of Roosevelt towering athwart felled giants exude an eerie combination of tremendous manly pride (generally, the sex that brings life into the world seems content with that primal connection to it, and is less interested in taking it back out) and utter negation; the deanimated lump no longer conveys anything but the material presence of piercing loss. Or, as Poole says of the poached corpses that she finds: “There is something so grand about the life of an elephant, its great size, strength, and age, that in death its loss is equally monumental. To have taken so many years and eaten so many trees, to have become so big; to have roamed the earth as King of Beasts and then to have collapsed in a piece of rotting flesh is tragic and so seemingly wasteful of life.”

George Orwell - Shooting an Elephant - Essay

In that instant, in too short a time, one would have thought, even for the bullet to get there, a mysterious, terrible change had come over the elephant. He neither stirred nor fell, but every line of his body had altered. He looked suddenly stricken, shrunken, immensely old.... in some world remote from me where not even a bullet could damage him further.

Shooting an Elephant by George Orwell

The point is not that elephants are treated cruelly by their handlers. While there is no shortage of examples of harsh or negligent treatment, many — probably most — zookeepers and circus trainers have close relationships with their elephants and may even love them intensely. But the contexts that bring them together are fundamentally inhumane. Carol Buckley, the founder of the Elephant Sanctuary who started out in the circus industry, “I’ve known people in this business for thirty years. I know they love elephants. What I have had to learn to understand is you can love someone in a very dysfunctional way.”