“Shooting an Elephant” Rhetorical Analysis Essay Draft

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 Orwell is 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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