Construction The Shadow Imperialism

Effects of Imperialism on the Construction of Identities of both Natives and Imperialists

Imperialism refers to the policy in which a state seeks to expand her power by invading and conquering other states; or by establishing political and economical dominance over other. The context of this essay finds Kincaid (1991) sentiments appealing that the tragedy of imperialism is the “way it promotes the ruling nation’s culture and rejects the colony’s.” This premise come into the limelight of truth at Burma in George Orwell’s Book Shooting an Elephant when he tragically kills an elephant based on the proposition that he hails from the imperial UK. This essay seeks to explore the impacts imperialism has in the construction of identities of both the native people and the imperialists.

Imperialism regime in the context of Shooting an Elephant is perceived through the spectrum of the imperialist identity. An imperialist nation (UK) as presented in On Seeing England for the First Time is powerfully endowed and has intense control over the people of Antigua. The education system in Antigua indoctrinates the young learners about the “glorious” UK and the whole economy is basically influenced by the UK. The young learners are inspired to understand the dynamics of the imperialist concerning their history and the learners who seem brilliant and fast in understanding the imperialist’s ways and history are celebrated if they can accomplish this. As a juvenile, Kincaid is celebrated for having mastered history embedding UK concerning the country’s historical heroes and figures with their achievements and failures. The locals find intense necessity of naming their children after the great British heroes and nationalities. Orwell equally reiterates on the actual state of affairs in Burma in his position as a police office. No one has the capacity to condemn openly the imperial aggravators involved in any sort of illegal act. This is a representation of how the imperialism and power are inter-twined.


This essay finds it sinister about how the power of imperialism dominates over the weaker nation. The domestic clothing and shoes originates from the imperialist. In his reminiscence, Kincaid recalls how he grew in the Antigua’s Oval which was a construction of five streets all named from notorious British men (Rodney Street, Nelson Street, Drake Street, Hawkins Street, Francis Street and Nelson Street). Notably the Hawkins street is named after the famous John Hawkins was one of the slave owners whose ship (The Jesus) was crucial in transporting kidnapped people. In the book Shooting an Elephant; it is apparent that elemental imperialism constitutes the capacity to influence power and a “fluid nature” based on the manner by which the masses follow up Orwell down slope to combat the perturbing elephant. Orwell extracts confidence to pursue the elephant with his gun based on the impending support which the masses seem promising to deliver. This consequently supersedes the ability to ponder against the reaction force which will follow upon when the elephant owner gets the news of an elephant death. The support is built on the threshold of racial extraction; with the local people finding more confidence of the imperial race. Similarly, the Kincaid and her family in the face of imperialist Britain submit themselves to their ways of life; and the whole basics systems such as education and cultural affiliations are inclined to towards UK. Kincaid’s family is more susceptible to imperialism effect; especially considering the hat (Brown felt hat) and clothing system they borrow from imperialist culture.

The identity of an imperialist race in relation to the two books is entwined with imperialism considering the manner how the Burmese and Antiguans regard the British. In the verge of the distracting elephant, the Burmese identifies Orwell as an earthly savior to deliver them from the ordeal of destructive elephant. The majority who follows him consider him instrumental in alleviating the immediate ordeal something they do not find in the natives. The natives are too submissive to the imperialist and too quick get aroused by the imperial presence. This is as true as in the case of the Antiguans who are controlled by the British identity. Every Antigua anticipates subscribing to the ways of the British, no wonder they strictly adopt their cultural doctrines such as those revolving around naming of children and home streets. They do this based on British borrowings and indeed sanctify them by all means. It is only imperial extractions who have a say in critical matters of a lesser nation; and this is revealed as when the talks about the elephant killings rents the Burma towns. Despite the fact that the owner is furious about the incident, Orwell thumbs his chest; “...a mad elephant has to be killed, like a mad dog, if its owner fails to control it.” In his opinion, Orwell finds it legally right to kill the elephant but yet his deed is driven by the urge to appear imperial and superior over his audience, something he succeeds. Additionally, the teachings the people of Antigua obtain in schools are constructed not on societal needs but are intended to sanctify the supremacy of the imperialist. Children are motivated to forget whatever they know, in the expense to sanctify imperialism. This grants an opportunity for irrelevant learning and education system which is not responsive to the needs of the society.

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Conclusively, the two works by George Orwell and Jamaica Kincaid are thematically built on imperialism. As demonstrated above, imperialism constitutes tangible attachment with power and identity. Upon the face of imperialism as in the cases of Burma and Antigua; imperialism tends to influence the local sectors significantly. The policies of imperialism ca brainwash the locals as in the case of Antigua where the British structures and customs are duplicated. Whereas imperialism can influence the normal ways of life of a lesser nation; the followers of such alien norms might dwell enchained by the demands of such customs as in the case with Kincaid before her actual adventure into the United Kingdom where she realizes the concepts she had accrued from school were not relevant to practice.


  • Kincaid, J. (1991). On seeing England for the first time. Transition, (51), 32-40.
  • Orwell, G. (1936). Shooting an elephant. New Writing, 2, 501-06.

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