the life lesson of Shooting an Elephant by George Orwell is that very often, one have to make a choice between what is morally right and what one is expected to do or should do, especially in accordance with the law.
In the essay, Orwell presents the conflict between the main character’s conscience and the law. The narrator is an imperial police officer, the representative of the conqueror and, consequently, is hated by the natives as “an obvious target” (Orwell). It is a difficult task for him to endure his job and hostile attitude of the conquered towards him. At the same time, he hates imperialism and the British Empire for the way of life he and the natives have to lead. As Orwell puts it, “theoretically – and secretly, of course, – I [the narrator] was all for the Burmese and all against their oppressors, the British”. In fact, this is the first conflict between the narrator’s conscience and what he is supposed to do / feel. The matter is that as he is a citizen of the British Empire and, more importantly, is at public service, he is supposed to admire his country, its political strategy and ideology. The narrator chooses to hate Britain and pity the Burmese though.
The second collision between what is morally right and what one is obliged to do is central in the piece under consideration because it is the one that leads to the main character’s deep reflection on his behavior in the situation and in general. What is meant here is the main decision the police officer makes, which is whether to shoot or not to shoot the elephant. As it follows from the essay, the choice is not the easy one for the narrator. He himself tries to justify what he is going to do. He understands that killing the animal is not correct: “As soon as I saw the elephant I knew perfectly that I ought not to shoot him” as “at that distance, peacefully eating, the elephant looked no more dangerous than a cow” (Orwell). At the same time, the narrator feels the