Rhetorical Devices in George Orwell’s “Shooting an Elephant”

Updated April 21, 2022

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Rhetorical Devices in George Orwell’s “Shooting an Elephant” essay

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Orwell and the effects of pressure Pressure is defying as it can persuade, influence, or intimidate someone into doing something with a certain outcome. Most of the time, pressure can negatively influence a person. It can lead to a loss in self-confidence, cause arouses of shame, or make one overthink situations. As perceived in George Orwell’s “Shooting an Elephant” essay, where he illuminates the consequences of pressure. While analyzing the essay through the lenses of pathos, ethos, and logos, I have come to realize that the significance of pressure is solid among the essay. First, it’s important to acknowledge the main theme of the essay as it states what is being discussed. The most essential theme presented in Orwell’s descriptive essay is affirming the fundamental moral corruption of imperialism.

Orwell brings to light the evils of this practice, by using detailed support to back his stance. Throughout the essay, he recognizes the problematic nature of imperialism. He highlights that it is not possible for one country to control people from other countries without it formulating hate. Orwell states that to maintain dominance over Burma, British colonial rule exerted persecution over the Burmese. This evil work of the empire included beatings, imprisonment, and other acts of brutality. Thereafter, this resulted in mutual hatred between the natives and the European. Similarly, in his essay, Orwell brings to light a focal moment in which he felt enlightened. It was a moment in which he realized the true motives for which authoritarian governments act. It all started when a sub inspector at a police station of the other end of the town called Orwell to advice that a tame elephant was ravaging the bazaar. Orwell had decided to arm himself up with an old rifle, in hopes of controlling the situation. With a large crowd surrounding him, he immediately felt an intense unnerving pressure. He states that he had no intentions of shooting the elephant as he had simply armed himself in case defense was necessary.

However, with a large crowd following him and analyzing his every step, he felt intimidated into shooting the elephant. As the domesticated elephant teared up bunches of grass, beating them against his knees to clean them and stuff them into his mouth, Orwell shot him. The pressure he felt by the population was so intense, he did something he didn’t want to do. Moreover, one can see the significance of pressure through the elements of pathos, ethos, and logos. Orwell invokes pathos when he states, “I did not in the least want to shoot him… but at that moment I glanced round at the crowd that had followed me.” In here, Orwell spotlights how pressure made him overthink the situation which led to the killing of the elephant who in reality wasn’t an imminent threat. Additionally, Orwell summons ethos when he states, “They did not like me… but the people expected it of me and I had got to do it.” In here, Orwell underlines that because he was a police officer, people trusted he would kill the elephant which added a burden of pressure over him. Lastly, Orwell emphasizes logos when he states, “I could feel their two thousand wills pressing me forward, irresistibly.” In here, Orwell asserts the amount of people that were around him making him feel a powerful feeling of pressure that ended the way it did.

In conclusion, pressure can lead to a loss in self-confidence, cause arouses of shame, or make one overthink situations. As seen through the essay of Orwell, where he resembled these traits caused by pressure. In his essay, Orwell highlights the evils of imperialism and details how this can even lead to pressure. Overall, to get his point across Orwell uses detail in a form of a descriptive essay.

Works Cited

  1. Orwell, George. “George Orwell.” George Orwell: Shooting an Elephant, 1936, orwell.ru/library/articles/elephant/english/e_eleph. Accessed 20 November 2018.
Rhetorical Devices in George Orwell’s “Shooting an Elephant” essay

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Rhetorical Devices in George Orwell’s “Shooting an Elephant”. (2022, Apr 21). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/rhetorical-devices-in-george-orwells-shooting-an-elephant/


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