Rhetorical Analysis of "Shooting an Elephant"

Topics: Burma, George Orwell, Shooting an Elephant Pages: 4 (1368 words) Published: February 21, 2013
Rhetorical Analysis of “Shooting an Elephant”

In George Orwell's short story, “Shooting an Elephant,” the narrator, a young European sub-divisional police officer states, “that when the white man turns tyrant it is his own freedom that he destroys.” This realization of British imperialism comes to him one day when he is pressured into shooting and killing a “peacefully eating,” elephant. Orwell's tone in this story is rather blunt and candid. The narrator is often speaking on how he doesn't like the society he's in. It seems like he's angry yet uncertain about how he really feels in his community. The conflict here is that the white man that is supposed to be in charge realizes that he lives his life to impress the natives, which pretty much puts them in charge. As the reader analyzes this story, they will soon understand why the narrator says he doesn't like imperialism. However, not because he is for the Burmese, but because he understands what imperialism really is.

For the reader to figure out how Orwell uses the tone of his narration to appeal to the reader, its important to examine how early on in the essay Orwell establishes a candid and blunt tone towards the Burmans, Natives, and the British based on imperialism. This is important to the reader because later on in the story he/she will begin to notice the contradiction of the statements being made. The narrator states how he doesn't like imperialism and that he's “all for the Burmese and all against their oppressors.” Yet, when he first describes them, his description of them is rather negative. The narrator describes the way the Burmans “got badly on my (his) nerves.” From the jump he seems to be portraying the Burmans as “little beasts who tried to make my (his) job impossible.” The clearest illustration of the narrators attitude towards them is when he writes, “I thought that the greatest joy in the world would be to drive an bayonet into a Buddhist priest's guts.” The narrators...

Cited: Orwell, George. “Shooting an Elephant.” Shooting an Elephant and Other Essays. New York: Penguin Group Inc., 2003. Blackboard. PDF file.
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