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Orwell: Shooting An Elephant – analysis paper Essay

Prompt 3 “Read carefully paragrphs 11-13 of Orwells Shooting An Elephant. THen write a well-organized essay explaining how the author uses stylistic devices and rhetoical strategies to convey his attitude toward the shooting of the elephant. Elephants were once, and are currently, considered prized possessions in some parts of the world. The taming of these majestic creatures dates all the way back to BC and, since then, elephants have continued to hold high value especially ceremonially, labor-wise, and culturally. But, just like any living organism, sometimes elephants do the wrong thing, in the wrong place, at the wrong time.

That’s what unfortunately happened to the elephant in Orwell’s piece, Shooting an Elephant. Orwell’s piece includes stylistic elements such as figurative languag and juxtaposition to express the narrators indifferent, but also guilty attitude towards bringing death upon the elephant. Orwell weaves symbolic figurative language, such as metaphors and similes, into his piece Shooting the Elephant to emphasize the narrators emotions towards his pulling of the trigger on the elephant.

The narrators indifference caused his mind to believe “a mad elephant has to be killed like a mad dog,if it’s owner fails to control it;” even though the elephant never posed a threat as a mad dog would. If the narrator hadn’t felt guilty, he wouldn’t have downsized the situation by comparing the elephant to a mad dog to justify his actions, but if he hadn’t had an indifferent attitude then perhaps the elephant would still be standing. Pulling the trigger on the gun aimed for the elephant triggered the narrators guilty conscience, especially when the elephant helplessly collapses “with a crash that seemed to shake the ground even where I lay.”

The metaphorical comparison of the elephant falling to an earthquake illustrates how the narrator realized how monumental and uncalled for the death of the elephant was, which led the guilt to begin tugging on his heart. Juxtaposition plays a big part in expressing the attitude of the narrator. The unfortunate coolie death with his “arms crucified, head sharply twisted to one side” intensely juxtaposes the majestic and graceful elephant death with “his trunk reaching skywards like a tree” and his “thick blood welling out of him like red velvet.” Unlike the full essay that the elephant gets, the poor coolie gets a mere three or four sentences about his death.

This juxtaposition makes it obvious that the narrator had much respect and favor for the elephant and because he sees the elephant that way, guiltiness begins to grasp his heart after the elephant is gone. Although his admiration for the elephant sticks out of the piece like a sore thumb, the crowd that he has power over was watching and he yearned for power, just as all humans do, so, he formed an indifferent attitude to bring himself to shoot the elephant three times. Power and control are not the same thing, they juxtapose one another, unlike the narrator thinks.

Keeping things under control is his job and he yearns for power, so out of that desire he decides to shoot the elephant believing that will keep everything under control when it would in fact do the opposite. His selfish need for power leads to a loss of control on the situation and on his attitude as it shifts from a confused state of mind, to an indifferent one.

In conclusion, Orwell tucks many stylistic devices into his piece Shooting an Elephant for readers to interpret and analyze as they wish. Juxtaposition and figurative language (specifically metaphors and similes) in paragraphs 11-13 disclose the indifferent, yet guilty attitude the narrator has by the end of the essay. His indifference is triggered by the craving of power he has, but his guilt is tripped up by the grandeur of the elephant and his conscience knowing the elephant deserves to live.


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