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Shooting an Elephant

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Gabriele Baljak

on 18 May 2014

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Transcript of Shooting an Elephant

How George Orwell uses language in "Shooting an Elephant"
Figurative Language
By Gabriele Raine Baljak
What will be discussed:
POV - 1st person perspective
Diction & Description in relation to mood & tone
The Figurative Language

Repetition of a Consonant Sound

ellow faces of

en that

e everywhere,

owed faces of the long-term
I marched down the hil
ooking and
eeling a
ool. . . .
as momentarily

He looked
An enormous
eemed to have
ettled upon him. "


of the people said that the elephant had gone in one direction,
said that he had gone in another,
professed not even to have heard of any elephant.
I looked at the sea of yellow faces above the garish clothed-faces
happy and excited over this bit of fun,
certain that the elephant was going to be shot. .


Comparison of Unlike Things Without Using Like, As, Than, or As If

"I could feel their two thousand wills pressing me forward, irresistibly."
(Comparison of wills to a physical force)

Combination of Contradictory Terms
grinning corpse

the formation of a word from a sound associated with what is named

....He was breathing very rhythmically with long rattling gasps,


[A] story always sounds clear enough at a distance, but the nearer you get to the scene of events the vaguer it becomes.
I perceived in this moment that when the white man turns tyrant it is his own freedom that he destroys.


The friction of the great beast's foot had stripped the skin from his back as neatly as one skins a rabbit.
The elephant looked no more dangerous than a cow.
He seemed to tower upward like a huge rock toppling, his trunk reaching skyward like a tree.
The thick blood welled out of him like red velvet. . . .

Discuss the style of '' Shooting An Elephant'' by George Orwell? - Homework Help - eNotes.com. (n.d.). enotes.com. Retrieved April 29, 2014, from http://www.enotes.com/homework-help/discuss-style-shooting-an-elephant-by-george-338717
Elements of Fiction and Total Effect in Shooting an Elephant by George Orwell (2004) | Santiago. (n.d.). Elements of Fiction and Total Effect in Shooting an Elephant by George Orwell (2004) | Santiago. Retrieved May 15, 2014, from http://www.santiagosr.com/elements_fiction_and_total_effect_shooting_elephant_george_orwell_2004
How does the writer of "Shooting an Elephant" use irony? - Homework Help - eNotes.com. (n.d.). enotes.com. Retrieved May 1, 2014, from http://www.enotes.com/homework-help/how-does-writer-shooting-an-elephant-use-irony-7229
MegaEssays.com. (n.d.). Shooting an Elephant essays. Retrieved May 1, 2014, from http://www.megaessays.com/viewpaper/24098.html
Rhetorical Analysis of Orwell's Shooting An Elephant. (n.d.). Scribd. Retrieved April 24, 2014, from http://www.scribd.com/doc/54437938/Rhetorical-Analysis-of-Orwell-s-Shooting-an-Elephant
Shooting an Elephant- G.Orwell. (n.d.). literatureatuwccr -. Retrieved May 1, 2014, from http://literatureatuwccr.wikispaces.com/Shooting+an+Elephant-+G.Orwell
Shooting an Elephant: a Study Guide. (n.d.). Shooting an Elephant: a Study Guide. Retrieved April 26, 2014, from http://www.cummingsstudyguides.net/Guides6/Shooting.html
WTA Tour Tennis. (n.d.). George Orwell "Shooting An Elephant" rhetorical analysis essay. Retrieved April 18, 2014, from http://www.gamefaqs.com/boards/561596-wta-tour-tennis/48232620
Yeasmin, N., Ferdoush, J., & Azad, M. A. (n.d.). “Shooting an Elephant”: A Stylistic Analysis . ASA University Review, Vol. 7 No. 1, January–June, 2013 . Retrieved April 27, 2014, from http://www.asaub.edu.bd/data/asaubreview/v7n1sl3.pdf
Point of View
The narrator tells the story in first-person point of view. He blames British tyranny and Burmese reaction to it for his troubles, as the following paragraph indicates:

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. With one part of my mind I thought of the British Raj as an unbreakable tyranny, as something clamped down, in saecula saeculorum, upon the will of prostrate peoples; with another part I thought that the greatest joy in the world would be to drive a bayonet into a Buddhist priest's guts. Feelings like these are the normal by-products of imperialism; ask any Anglo-Indian official, if you can catch him off duty.

Why is it worth investigating?
It was a story which took place during the British Imperialism in the 1930s
The personal experience of George Orwell
He also questioned the actions of the British
There are many examples of literary devices used which plays a role of how the story is told
When he wrote the story he was a changed person compared to when the action took place.

He is therefore able to understand that before he "could not get anything into perspective."

If the story had been narrated from the point of view of the Burmese sub-inspector or the Burmese people, an attack on imperialism would be a very superficial argument and therefore less effective.

Hence, point of view also contributes to the total effect and support of the attack to imperialism.
Ironically, the natives actually control the executioner instead of being the other way around. The killing event actually makes him feel important.

He only cared not to be seen as a fool by the natives whom he sees as judges:
"I often wondered whether any of the others grasped that I had done it solely to avoid looking a fool."

He lost his freedom as he did what was expected of him.

Finally, he was not interested in his moral righteousness as evidenced when he said:

"I was very glad that coolie had been killed; it put me in right and it gave me a sufficient pretext for shooting the elephant."

Diction & Description
The author uses eastern terminology:
Bazaar (eastern marketplace)
Betel (leaf of a plant chewed in Burma)

Words from Latin:
Saecula saeculorum (the idea of eternity, "in a century of centuries")
In terrorem ("into/about fear," is a legal warning, given in hope of compelling someone to act without resorting to a lawsuit or criminal prosecution)

Words related to the Hindu culture:
Raj (government or rule)
Mahout (elephant keeper and driver)
Coolie (a hired laborer)
Mahout (skilled elephant trainer and handler)
Coringhee (From or having to do with the town of Coringa, India. It is in the state of Andhra Pradesh in the southeastern part of the country)
Dravidian (lower-caste Indian who speaks his own language, Dravidian)

Turkish and Arabic words:
Sahib (master, sir. Indians and Burmans used the word when addressing an Englishman.)

Picturesque Effect:
“… when we heard yells a little distance away. There was a loud, scandalized cry of “Go away, child! Go away this instant!” and an old woman with a switch in her hand came round the corner of a hut, violently shooing away a crowd of naked children. Some more women followed, clicking their tongues and exclaiming… ”

Elephant's reaction to gunshots:
"He [the elephant] looked suddenly stricken, shrunken, immensely old, as though the frightful impact of the bullet had paralysed him without knocking him down."

How Orwell describes imperialism:
"believed that a muddled style could lead to vague thinking and that precision in both thought and writing was one of the chief defenses against political tyranny."

Metaphorical expression in:
“I marched down the hill, looking and feeling a fool”.

The deep path of the huge elephants’ throat is described artistically with a vivid metaphor
“caverns of pale pink throat”.

The text binds the psychological factors of the narrator through his superiority complex, dilemma, insecurity, guilt and sympathy.

tone & mood
"I was only an absurd puppet pushed to and fro by the will of those yellow faces behind."
(Comparison of the narrator to a puppet)
Intelligent use of figurative language establishes the essay as an influential writing with literary value. The compactness of the narration arises from the consistency of thought, focused action and the implicit/explicit cohesive devises. The stylistic features of the text have secured ts influential status in the literary cannon.
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