Rhetorical Analysis Of Shooting An Elephant By George Orwell

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From the very beginning of Shooting An Elephant, George Orwell demonstrates ambivalence through his affiliations with Imperialist Britain, his sense of self among the Burmese, and his ties to the elephant. In the second paragraph, Orwell says: “All I knew was that I was stuck between my hatred of the empire I served and my rage against the evil-spirited little beasts who tried to make my job impossible.” We learn early in the essay that Orwell hates imperialism and the Burmans, already making him ambivalent. Although Orwell hates being a British official, he has a constant need to feel important and needed by the Burmans. Therefore, he is excited when called to help with a loose elephant rampaging in the bazaar. Throughout the piece, we experience Orwell’s internal conflict between the imperialist police force he is working for, and the rude Burmans people he is forced to deal with on a daily basis. Because of his indecisiveness, we are constantly on our toes, wondering which “side” he will choose. Will he succumb to his duty to his country and to the police force, or will he side with his need to be in power and placed socially above the persuasive Burmans? Orwell’s flaky equivocation drives the tone in this piece, adding ambivalence to the reader as well. Orwell draws the audience in…show more content…
We are left at the end wondering if shooting the elephant was really the best action for Orwell to have taken. Did shooting the elephant begin to cut his ties with the imperial force, or with his moral disposition? His ambivalence nonetheless brings out his true character and vulnerability. Furthermore, we see him as a victim, being influenced by “the army” of Burmans, although he in fact is the murderer. This alone shows us the persuasion of ambivalent tone, ironic, but true. This simple persuasion also leads to Orwell’s view that imperialism is like a double-sided sword; detrimental to both sides

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