In the essay Shooting an Elephant,George Orwell uses plenty of imagery to show a specific scene to the reader. He goes into full detail during the shooting to evoke his senses and emotions at the time of the event. This is shown to the audience when describing the natives and the gruesome deaths of the Dravidian coolie and the elephant.
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Orwell claims to be “all for the Burmese and all against the British and his ideas are truly apparent in his descriptions of the “wretched prisoners huddling in the stinking cages of the lockups…who had been Bogged with bamboos,” who are portrayed as victims of harsh British rule. The prisoners had been dealt with like animals and were stored restrained in small cramped rooms inside the maximum inhumane situations. Revealing the dirty work of the British empire by operating as a police officer, Orwell encounters the brutalities of the empire up near.
After coming across “an old woman…violently shooing away a crowd of naked children, he witnesses a dead body sprawling in the mud. The imagery used to explain the corpse graphically paints a gloomy portrait: his face had scored a trench a foot deep and a couple of yards long. He was lying on his belly with arms crucified and head sharply twisted to one side. His face was coated with mud, the eyes wide open, the teeth bared and grinning with an expression of unendurable agony.”
At the moment that the narrator looks back on the crowd of natives behind him, he depicts the people as a sea of yellow faces, hungry for action and excitement. The image of a rumbling sea, tossing and turning with excitement, creates a sense of power behind the fa?§ade of the once helpless natives. Even though Orwell did not want to kill the tranquil creature he knew that it was the only thing he could do to not look like a fool in front of the natives. This shows that he was being forced to do something he wasn’t really able to do on his own. Orwell feels this power as a firm force pressuring him to shoot the elephant.
Orwell paints a picture for the reader so vivid that one feels as if they are prone on the hillside. After firing two more rounds he goes on to say that was the shot that did for him. “You could see the agony of it jolt his whole body and knock the last remnant of strength from his legs…He trumpeted, for the first and only time. And then down he came, his belly towards me, with a crash that seemed to shake the ground where I lay.” – After firing his two remaining rounds into the elephant’s chest, “thick blood welled out of him like red velvet…the tortured breathing continued without a pause”.
He compared the blood to red velvet, he presents a visual and richly textured picture that sticks out from the opposite language and efficiently increases the gravity of the death. He describes these horrible events with such detail that the reader is guaranteed that they are forever burned into Orwell’s mind.
Orwell uses the imagery in this essay to move the reader’s senses and obtains feelings of sympathy for not only the elephant but Orwell himself. Ultimately, this essay helps as an extended metaphor for his feelings towards the British imperialist regime. His hatred for the empire under which he serves and mixed feelings towards the Burman people is obvious throughout the body of work.

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Essay Shooting An Elephant. (2019, Jul 23).
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