A Hanging: Cruelty Beyond Explanation

Topics: Metaphor, Prison, A Hanging Pages: 2 (654 words) Published: November 6, 2008
Cruelty Beyond Explanation

"A Hanging" written by George Orwell, depicts the tragedy of taking a healthy man's life, Orwell uses numerous similes, imagery, and symbolism. The main focus of this essay is centered around the hanging, and the events which precede in a Burma prison. The reader never becomes aware of what crime the condemned man committed. Therefore, there is no room to judge if this ultimate punishment is just. The tone dramatically shifts throughout the essay, giving rise to changes of emotion by the reader. Yet, it is the emotions of the characters are predominantly responsible for these shifts in the essay. Capital punishment has been a heated and most debated issue for decades. Each character in "A Hanging" deals with this immoral act of murder differently, affecting the tone of the essay.

Orwell begins the essay, describing the setting elaborately to a point where it seems tangible. The reader becomes aware that the essay starts in jail and Orwell further depicts it through the use of a simile. The jail cells are "like small animal cages." It becomes apparent that the jail is probably scanty and congested with prisoners. The first character that is introduced is the condemned man. His crime is unknown, however, it is undoubtably severe. This raises questions in the readers mind as to whether the man truly deserves to die. As the guards put the handcuffs on him, the condemned man put up no struggle. He strangely accepted the death that was about to come to him. "..he stood quite unresisting, yielding his arms limply to the ropes, as though he hardly noticed what was happening." The condemned man shows no emotions, perhaps he chooses not to display them or may accept the wrongs he did that caused him to be in this situation. This creates the initial sympathetic, lonely tone.

Standoffish from the rest of the group, is the first notice of the superintendent. The superintendent represents desensitization....
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