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Rhetorical Analysis of Shooting an Elephant

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Rhetorical Analysis of “Shooting an Elephant”

Orwell succeeds greatly in telling one of his remarkable experiences in Burma. While working for the British Empire as a police officer in Burma, he comes across a elephant gone mad that in his judgment he shouldn’t shoot because the handler was on his way and there was no need to kill the expensive piece of property anymore. But in the end he felt that he needed to do a service for the mob of people that had congregated. Orwell wrote this essay 10 or so years after the events that took place in the essay. The British Empire at the time of writing was going through major changes and its imperial power was declining. So he was telling his incredible story as a way of informing the British citizens at the time of exposing the injustices and dark side of imperialism that he felt he had to right. The whole world when he was writing this essay was enduring a economic depression and were facing another possible world war. So it was a dark time not only for the British empire but the whole world.

Orwell audience obviously would be very word choice by his unique dilemma. Writing for it for the average Englishman, Orwell hopes to change their ignorant attitudes of the smaller, poorer colonies. The audience would likely also have more confidence and faith in Orwell because of his brutally honest admissions. He assumed that Moulmein, Burma and the other problems with imperialism was mostly unheard of to the average patriotic Englishman. In his essay he represents himself as a man who is not only young and naïve but also torn between the Empire he serves and the people that it oppresses. He gains additional credibility by revealing feelings and views that most writers would probably never even consider putting to paper.

The medium he used was print which was the most effective way of getting your word across the whole word at the time. It was written as a narrative essay. The main idea proposed was that one man can be a ambassador for a larger group, and that such a man does can make a difference to a whole nation by doing the right thing in the people’s eyes, even if it seems so small. He supports this by explaining the large mob that gathered and were expecting and hoping that he would kill the elephant, which in their eyes was the right thing to do.
The essay is organized like a short story, with a rising action, conflict and a turning point in essay. At the beginning, rising action. Orwell explains how he is conflicted between his hate for the dark, evil side of imperialism and his hate for the way the Burmese had treated him as an Englishman. Later the turning point and conflict comes in when Orwell decides that he must kill the elephant. He appeals to reason by explaining the political context of the dilemma of whether to kill the elephant. The style is informal. For example, Orwell uses slang and writes from the first-person point of view. Orwell decided to write this essay 10 years after the events, meaning that he had experience and wisdom about the events that took place. He thought there was a need for this essay at the time of print. Orwell uses many different metaphors like “leading actor,” “an absurd puppet,” “he wears a mask,” “conjurer about to perform a trick.” Orwell decided to write this essay 10 years after the events, meaning that he had experience and wisdom about the events that took place. He thought there was a need for this essay at the time of print. Also comparing the Empire to a “posing dummy.” Orwell is the leading actor in the play for the Burmese playing the British Empire. He is also an absurd puppet in the situation, and the crowd is the puppet master. When Orwell talks about being a colonial officer that’s “wearing a mask”. Its because as an officer of the empire he is not his own and must fit the part so he can impress the natives. All this talk about the theatre and a supposed play, is because he’s using symbolism to show the global stage that The Empire is acting for. Irony was employed when talking about the natives being the only sole worry of his being that they would see him chased by the elephant then killed. Then all the natives would be reduced to laughter. The style he uses which is narrative first person relates to the purpose of changing the average Englishman’s attitudes of imperialism by hearing the tyranny first hand from a man that has seen the dark side of it.

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