Shooting an Elephant by George Orwell

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Do you think Orwell wrote this essay to inform or to persuade his audience? How did Orwell expect his audience to react to his ideas? How can you tell?

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Orwell's essay is written primarily to persuade its audience that imperialism is a cruel system which controls those who are in charge as much as it does the native people oppressed by it.

We know that this is a persuasive rather than an informative essay because it appeals primarily to our emotions (pathos) rather than our intellect or logic (logos). Rather than using the dispassionate, objective language of a person communicating facts and statistics (he provides no statistics), Orwell instead uses heated, emotional language. For example, speaking of the Buddhist monks in Burma who jeer at and passively aggress against the imperial police, Orwell's narrator states:

I thought that the greatest joy in the world would be to drive a bayonet into a Buddhist priest’s guts.

This is not the language of logic but the language of intense subjective feeling, which is what Orwell explores in this essay. In fact, in the very next line, the narrator mentions the word "feelings:"

Feelings like these...

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