George Orwell’s WritingGeorge Orwell is best known for his fiction writing, particularlyAnimal Farm and 1984. In ‘Shooting an Elephant’ he demonstrates histalent in non-fiction writing. Not everyone was familiar with the wayin which the British Imperial rule worked and Orwell uses hisrhetorical language to bring the readers of his essay into theimmediate world that was that of an imperial officer.
Orwell?s essay is written in the first person perspective. This wasdone deliberately by Orwell to make the reader feel closer to theaction taking place. By writing in the first person instead of in say,the third person, Orwell allows for himself to show his feelings. Thisis what makes it a personal essay rather than just a man telling astory. With this personal viewpoint exposed, Orwell was able to touchon his own feelings about imperialism and the Burmese people as hetells the story, thus adding to the immediacy that the reader feels tohis worlds. He is a British police officer in Burma, but says that hewas against the British in the oppression of the Burmese. Orwell usesparticular diction and language choice to convey the fact that hefeels almost stuck in the middle in the whole situation. Orwell says,?All I knew was that I was stuck between my hatred of the empire Iserved and my rage against the evil-spirited little beasts who triedto make my job impossible.? He calls the Burmese ?little beasts?showing his dislike but then choosing the adjective ?evil-spirited? todescribe these little beasts? shows that he understood why theytreated him like they did. They themselves were not evil but they wereevil-spirited towards him. Orwell conveys this stuck in the middlefeeling to show the …
…ousand Burmans would see me?reduced to a grinningcorpse?And if that happened it was quite probable some of them wouldlaugh. That would never do.? This is more irony employed by Orwell.This irony ties right in with the constant metaphors to the theaterand to him feeling like a ?puppet? and a ?dummy?. He feels so muchlike he has to please the Burmans but he will not stand for lettingthem be pleased by him dying. It?s ironic that either he or theelephant, both symbols of imperialism, must be killed for the Burmeseto smile.
Overall, Orwell employs these rhetorical tools such as metaphors,symbolism, and irony, as well as choosing to write in the first personperspective, deliberately to bring the reader into the immediate worldof a colonial police officer. His choice of language and rhetoricmakes the story that much more relatable to the reader.