George Orwell Shooting An Elephant Essay Analysis Website

Shooting an Elephant text

Persuasion is an inescapable fact of communication. Whether it be a poster for a new movie or handling social pressures to conform, persuasion is one of the most prevalent styles of rhetorical dialogue. While persuasion is most commonly associated with in-your-face advertisements and political speeches, more subtle rhetorical artifacts, such as novels and essays, can contain equally persuasive elements. The essay Shooting an Elephant by George Orwellis an example of a persuasive rhetorical piece.

Orwell’s 1936 publication Shooting an Elephant is an autobiographical account of Orwell’s experiences as a British police officer in Burma during a period of British imperialism. Though Orwell has personal sympathy for the Burmese, the Burmese do not respect his position or legitimize his authority. The divide between Orwell’s feelings towards imperialism and his strained relationship with the Burmese people illuminates the message of the story: Imperialism is an institution that destroys both the oppressor and the oppressed.

HOW IT IS CONVEYED-follow chronology, include instances of p/l, explain how it results in message

It is not surprising that Orwell wrote this politically charged essay at the time he did. After all, Orwell was an open critic of imperialism during the early 20th Century. His first-hand encounters with the evils of imperialism during his time as a police officer in Burma make him a reputable source of knowledge about the conditions and reality of the British oppression of Burma. The use of ethos by the initial establishment of authority through Orwell’s experiences sets the tone for a compelling argument throughout the essay.

-Orwell’s unhappy job situation, working for something that he does’t believe in (pathos-sympathy) results in disharmony among British officers and country.

-Is it worth is to kill the elephant to please townspeople? Is killing the elephant justifiable?(logos-logical weighing of consequences) results in rash decisions.

-The elephant dies painfully (pathos) results in uncomfortable situation for oppressor and is not good for oppressed (elephant owner).


Shooting an Elephant is intended to make the reader feel unsettled. Orwell purposefully recounts his negative experiences in Burma to reinforce his view that imperialism is harmful on both ends. The miserable attitude of the author, the strained tensions between the British and the Burmese, and the needless suffering of the elephant all serve to create the impression that imperialism is a destructive system. In terms of the effectiveness of Orwell’s argument, it seems that his purpose for writing Shooting an Elephant closely matches the message conveyed to the reader. Because of this, Shooting an Elephant can be considered an effective piece of writing.

Though it is important to consider the effectiveness of writing on an individual basis, it is perhaps more important to examine the impact of rhetoric on a societal level. Historically speaking, Shooting an Elephant

Relate back to persuasion and effectiveness of rhetorical piece.

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Analysis of George Orwell's 'Shooting an Elephant' Essay example

1050 WordsSep 18th, 20085 Pages

Technique Analysis of ‘Shooting an elephant’
Written by George Orwell
Essay by Arthur Diennet

In 1936, George Orwell published his short story ‘Shooting an elephant’ in an English magazine. Since then, it has been republished dozens of times and holds a place as a definitive anti-colonial piece of literature, in an era where the British Empire was at its peak and covered almost 1/3 of the Earth’s surface. George Orwell believed that “…imperialism was an evil thing...” and uses much themes, symbolism and irony to convey his strong anti-colonialist feelings.

Theme is an integral part of this story and is mostly presented through the narrator. One of the major themes of the story is conscience, in which many of the conflicts in the…show more content…

By popular thinking of that day, disorientating violence exacted on the community can only be dealt with through an equal and opposite reaction of violence toward the exacter. An old saying throughout Europe goes ‘Do not hunt monsters, lest you wish to become one yourself.’ Yet, his order and disorder themes lend greatly to the senses of symbolism in the story.

Orwell employs symbolism as a major literary technique, aiding our understanding of his stance against colonialism and our understanding of the setting. From the start, it is clear that he represents the modern, the western industrial English, at complete odds with the rural and primitive Burmese. It is believed that the focal symbolic point would be the narrators stand against the elephant. In the paragraph in which the narrator fires at the elephant, it is seen as docile, not bothering anyone anymore and having only made a sporadic wrong. The narrator then fires at the quite calm elephant once, but it does not fall and so, while it is still weak, he fires two more shots, bringing the magnificent creature down. Burma (The country in which the story is situated) has a long history of wars with the British Empire before finally giving in to Colonialism; three wars to be exact. It can be seen in the history books that Burma only wronged the British in a minor way and in fact was not directly bothering the British Raj and much like the narrator, it

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