What rhetorical devices are used in "Shooting an Elephant"?

Rhetorical devices used in "Shooting an Elephant" include imagery, simile, and irony, all of which emphasize the many injustices done by the British Empire. For example, Orwell uses powerful similes to describe the prolonged death of the elephant, likening its trunk to a tree, before it trumpets for the last time. By using such descriptions, Orwell evokes greater emotion from his readers, who also recognize the irony of Orwell's position, as he didn't want to shoot the elephant at all.

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Rhetorical devices are persuasive devices. Orwell, in this essay, wants to persuade us that imperialism is a system that is destructive towards everyone involved in it. One way he does this is through the use of imagery . Imagery is description that uses any of the five sense...

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Rhetorical devices are persuasive devices. Orwell, in this essay, wants to persuade us that imperialism is a system that is destructive towards everyone involved in it. One way he does this is through the use of imagery. Imagery is description that uses any of the five sense of sight, sound, taste, touch, and smell. For example, Orwell uses the vivid imagery of the narrator imagining the pleasure he would experience if he could "drive a bayonet into a Buddhist priest’s guts." This image shocks us in its savagery and shows how imperialism dehumanizes the British who are caught up in it.

Orwell uses simile, a comparison using the words like or as, to show the power and beauty of the dying elephant, swaying us to feel sympathy for the creature. He has his narrator liken the elephant's legs to a "huge rock toppling"; the elephant's trunk reaches "skyward like a tree," and his blood is like "red velvet." All of these similes impart dignity to the dying animal.

Another rhetorical device Orwell employs is irony. It is ironic, or not what we would expect, that a supposedly civilized British citizen would be glad that the elephant had killed a man, because that act has exonerated the narrator of all blame for killing the elephant. We recoil as we realize that the narrator has become so callous that he is somewhat comforted by the fact that the system can cover up the wrong he has done, even at the cost of a life. He says,

I was very glad that the coolie had been killed; it put me legally in the right and it gave me a sufficient pretext for shooting the elephant. I often wondered whether any of the others grasped that I had done it solely to avoid looking a fool.

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