Metaphors and similes

George Orwell makes use of both several metaphors as well as similes in the story “Shooting an Elephant”

Table of contents


Several metaphors add to the qualities of the story’s language as they represent creative associations used to depict people and events.

The metaphor of the “leading actor of the piece” helps suggest the narrator feels manipulated by the will of the locals to adopt a position he does not want and kill the elephant. It also helps to suggest that the killing of the elephant is like a piece of theatre, and that it is being done for show rather than for any concrete reason.

The metaphor of the “grandmotherly air” associates the elephant with an elderly person. This helps suggest that the creature is more vulnerable than expected, and that it should be respected and protected.  The metaphor is resumed later as the narrator mentions the “senility” of the elephant, further associating it with old age.

Finally, the metaphor of the “caverns of pale pink throat” describes the ele...

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