Analysis of George Orwell’s Essay, A Hanging

Analysis of George Orwell’s Essay, A Hanging

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“I had never realised what it means to destroy a healthy, conscious man.” After reading and understanding George Orwell’s feelings through his experiences in his essay “A Hanging.” We come to realize that George Orwell, a visitor from the European establishment, gets the opportunity to participate in the execution of a Hindu man. The author is degraded by what he has witnessed and experienced, and decides to share his feelings with the rest of the establishment through his writings.

     We understand that the author’s purpose is to show how degraded he feels by the events that took place that morning in Burma.

     Throughout his essay the author shows, that the prisoners are treated like animals. We see this when the author is describing the cells, he states, “We were waiting outside the condemned cells, a row of sheds fronted with double bars, like small animal cages.” We also see this evident when he is describing the way it took six guards to escort a “puny wisp of a man.” He says, “It was like men handling a fish which is still alive and may jump back into the water.”

     The author’s purpose is to also allow the audience to understand the way the guards and superintendent felt towards the prisoners. We see this when the superintendent is upset because the execution is running late, and says, “For God’s sake hurry up, Francis.” And “The man ought to have been dead by this time.” This allows the reader to see the disrespect the authority has towards the prisoners.

We see that the author’s purpose is to allow the readers to understand that the prisoners were not treated humanly, and allows us to see the negative attitudes the authority had towards the prisoners.

Knowing and understanding the author’s purpose, we see where he is coming from and what his “point of view” is. We see that the author is someone that does not agree with the activities that occur in the native prison. It makes the author feel uncomfortable with the establishment and its procedures.

The author realizes the wrongfulness in killing someone who’s living a healthy life, we see this when the author states, “I saw the mystery, the unspeakable wrongness, of cutting a life short when it is in full tide.” Even though he does not object to these actions he does not agree with them.

Through this we see that the author’s point of view is someone who understands that the events that took place that morning in Burma, were not humane and degrading.

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Now that we understand the authors purpose and point of view, we look at whom the author is targeting his essay to. We see that the author is sharing his thoughts and his experiences with the European magistrate and establishment.

One significant way of seeing this is through the author’s way of specifically describing the prison itself and even the way the guards presented themselves. This is evident when the author describes the way gallows appeared. He states, “It was a brick erection like three sides of a shed, with planking on top, and above that two beams and a crossbar with the rope dangling.”

We see that the author’s audience is the establishment and magistrate, not only through the way he described things in detail, however it is also evident in his language.
By combining the way the author felt, his point of view and his audience. we finally agree that George Orwell was so degraded by the events that took place that morning, that he really wanted the rest of the members in the establishment to hear and also realize the wrongfulness of the events that take place not only that morning, but perhaps every day in Burma.

Perhaps George Orwel was so disturbed by his experience, that he felt the best way to relieve his frustration and anger, would be through sharing his story with those who might see the wrongfulness and help improve the situation itself.
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