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George Orwells “A Hanging” Essay

George Orwells’ “A Hanging” is a very descriptive piece. It starts off going into a detailed description of the weather, jail cells, and the inmates. The description goes so far to even mention that the man who was going to be hanged jumped over a water puddle. This shows me that even though it shouldn’t matter because he’s about to die it is just a natural instinct. When Orwell starts to describe the weather it sends out a dark uneasiness atmosphere. He describes the jail cells where the condemned people live as “small animal cages” this gives the impression on how bad the conditions were. This is the first sign of how inhumane it is there. Orwell then described the prisoner “a puny wisp of a man with vague liquid eyes.” He described him like this without telling about the crime so no one could stereotype the prisoner or be influenced to see him in a different light but only as a favorable, powerless Hindu man. Orwell gives intense description to show the harsh treatment and to give his dislike for the way the people were treated.

The dog that jumped on the man who was about to be executed was friendly to him and didn’t see him in his wrong doing unlike the people who intended to execute him. This made the inhumane execution seem even worse. I think the major conflict is that he knows that this harmless seeming man is about to be executed and he has no choice but to go along with the killing of this man even though he knows it is wrong. He has a strong dislike for the situation but because of his occupation and he doesn’t want to be looked at differently he doesn’t stand up for the man and stop the execution. He is expected to help with the hanging because it is one of his duties as an imperialist British police officer. In the story Orwell said, “I saw the mystery the unspeakable wrongness, of cutting a life short when it is in full tide.” To me this means they would be ending a man’s life that has a future and once his life is ended that future will never be experienced. After this Orwells view of capital punishment it is morally wrong and he thinks that no person should take another person’s life.

When the prisoner begins to chant to his god it started to build up tension between the execution party and him. When Orwell said “the Indians had gone grey like bad coffee.” He is simply expressing his distaste for the actual hanging itself. When he talks about the clanking sound then the dead silence he showed me how quick and easy it was to take a person’s life. The dog then again showed human like emotions against what was going on. Orwell said “it stopped short, barked then retreated into a corner of the yard.” This made me think the dog had emotional ties with the man also and it shows the dog in shock and just disgusted at the things that had just took place. Throughout this story Orwell expresses his outrage of the things that are taking place but doesn’t seem to try to stand up for what is morally right. Orwell uses figurative imagery and vivid description to revel his disapproval for capital punishment.

Orwell skillfully manipulated the mood to engage readers’ emotions and convinces his anti-capital punishment among you. He sometimes even showed his emotional reactions through the dog. The purpose is to show the contrast of the overall value of life with it being destroyed by another people. He also tries to improve the mood of understanding the issues of capital punishment that have took place by showing how wrong it is to take someone’s life no matter their crime, religion, or anything that makes them different from another person. He resolves his conflict by writing about this and informing people that your morals shouldn’t be put to the side just because it is the duties of your occupation. Orwell is showing people that capital punishment is wrong no matter what the circumstances. Some feelings I felt while reading this were sympathy, compassion, uncomfortableness, surprise, and unease.

At the beginning of this I was all for capital punishment but as I have read it I feel as if capital punishment is wrong because no one should have the right to say because of whatever reason it may be you need to die. They should just stay locked away forever if people think that they should be killed for some kind of wrong doing. I don’t see how the how the execution party could watch either because handing somebody is inhumane no matter how you look at it. I feel that the people that are conducting the execution are the most inhumane people and that the execution party that watches it are not far from it. I now understand the actual meaning of capital punishment and reading this short story has changed my perception on capital punishment a great deal. I also understand why I should not let other outside factors influence what I know is morally correct whether it be something as serious as capital punishment or just day to day things in my life. What’s right is right and what’s wrong is wrong.


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