What is the tone used in the essay, "Shooting an Elephant"?

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In the essay "Shooting an Elephant" by George Orwell , the narrator recounts an experience he has while serving as a police officer in Moulmein, a town in Lower Burma. He explains that because he is a European, the Burmese despise him. They shout jeers and insults at...

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In the essay "Shooting an Elephant" by George Orwell, the narrator recounts an experience he has while serving as a police officer in Moulmein, a town in Lower Burma. He explains that because he is a European, the Burmese despise him. They shout jeers and insults at him and even trip him when he played soccer. This confuses him because he sympathizes with the Burmese and their plight. He has decided that the British are oppressors and that the subjugation of the locals is wrong. Sometimes the harassment of the Burmese is almost more than he can bear.

One day he receives a phone call that a crazed elephant is running loose in the village. He grabs a rifle, jumps on a pony, and goes to investigate. The elephant has been wreaking damage and killed a local. The narrator sends for a larger rifle and continues on foot. When he catches up with the elephant, it has calmed down. The narrator does not want to kill it, but he senses the mood of the huge crowd behind him and does it anyway because that is what he is expected to do.

The tone in a work of literature reflects the writer's attitude and feelings toward the subject he is writing about. The author's choice of words and phrases determine tone.

The tone in "Shooting an Elephant" is a mix of different attitudes and feelings that reflects the emotional conflict inherent in the author's situation. For example, the tone expresses the author's frustration due to the complexity of the political and social situation. The tone expresses the uncertainty the author feels between his sympathy for the Burmese and his duty to the British. The tone expresses the author's helplessness against powerful social forces that pull him in opposite directions. The tone expresses the author's anger at the British for their colonial policies and at the Burmese for their harassment. Finally, the tone expresses the irony that the author is forced to act contrary to his personal beliefs by both the British and by the Burmese.

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Throughout "Shooting an Elephant," the narrator's tone is both candid and frank as he talks openly and honestly about his experiences as a sub-divisional police officer in Burma. In the second paragraph, for example, the speaker admits that he, like all imperial officers, felt very conflicted about his role. On the one hand, he hated imperialism because of its tyranny but, on the other hand, he hated the Burmese people for the way they treated him. In addition, he also admits that he had no choice but to continue working in Burma because he needed a job. By confessing these thoughts and feelings, the narrator develops a strong sense of honesty with his audience.

Later, when the narrator shoots the elephant, the tone becomes depressing as he describes this animal in its final moments. He uses visual imagery to convey this change of tone. He highlights the "desperate slowness" of the elephant, for example, and the crashing of its body after he fires the final shot.

The candid tone resumes in the closing paragraphs of the essay. He wonders if anybody realized his true motives for shooting the elephant—namely, that he shot the elephant because he did not want to "look a fool" in front of the Burmese.

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The tone Orwell's narrative adopts toward his readers is friendly, revealing, and informal. This approach draws the reader in. We trust his voice because he shares intimate details of his experience: he is hated, he is conflicted.

The tone is particularly effective because this approach allows the narrator to reveal glimpses of his personality that we might not otherwise get to see. For instance, when he speaks of the conflict he feels, his voice is the voice of a worker trying to do the right thing in an impossible (from his perspective) situation:"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. Later, the narrator reveals his racism and alienation when he refers to the people watching him as a "sea of yellow faces.

Because he is so honest about his difficulties, we can follow him and share in his experience. We may never have had to shoot an elephant, but many of us have performed an act we knew in our heart to be wrong
because we felt forced to wear a particular mask or because we wanted to avoid humiliation.His tone allows us to see ourselves in him.

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Tone is the author's attitude toward the subject he is writing about. Critics have debated whether Orwell is apologizing for or condemning imperialism. Either way, Orwell is against imperialism, when a more powerful country governs and controls a less powerful one. The British ruled India in 1930s when Orwell was a colonial official. He felt the hatred, distrust, and resentment of the Burmese people toward officials of the British empire and agreed with them that Britain shouldn't have been there. Yet, he also experienced his hatred of the natives when they treated him terribly.

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