Sylver Baker 2016
23 May 2016
Formal Assignment 1: Analysis of “A Hanging” by George Orwell
“A Hanging” by George Orwell is a short story based on the author’s experience while working as a police magistrate. In the story he talks about the experience of witnessing an execution. The prisoner is escorted to the gallows by the warders for his hanging. Once there everyone is ready for the execution to be done so that they can all go have a drink. Using descriptive words so that one feels and experiences what he experienced Orwell argues that Capital Punishment is wrong.
Orwell focuses on the negative to set the tone of how unpleasant and depressing an execution is. He describes the day “a ...view middle of the document...
All people feel some kind of anxiety about the inhumane and cruel punishment.
Orwell describes the superintendent and other characters’ emotions before and after the hanging, who is against capital punishment. The prisoner cries out in a rhythmical tone, “Ram! Ram! Ram! Ram!”, not out of fear or for help but as though he has accepted his condemned fate. “Everyone had changed color---each cry another second of life; the same thought was in all of our minds; oh, kill him quickly, get it over, stop that abominable noise!” This shows the state of mind of all involved with the hanging: fearful, anxious, horrified. The warders were the ones that are disturbed by the experience of the hanging. Orwell states, “till that moment I had never realized what it means to destroy a healthy, conscious man”. Once the horrible scene was over the superintendent and warders seemed awkwardly at ease and relieved. This was due to the escape of the terrible scene of watching the execution which to the warders is larger than watching a prisoner die since they do not have personal connections with the person. Capital punishment is more than observing a life being taken but the torment and pain to watch the murder of a human life.
By creating a gloomy tone Orwell portrays the agony and misery everyone who feels and experiences capital punishment. He made one understand the nature of capital punishment by eliminating moral judgement and having one view it as only taking a human life. The sarcasm of the warders’ attitudes towards the death of a prisoner proves that everyone is burdened by the death of that from capital punishment. Orwell explains that capital punishment is unjustifiable and malicious punishment no matter what the nature of the crime.