Analysis Of Orwell’s Writing Style In A Hanging

Moments that occur so fast that you cannot try to describe what happened, but yet it did. Especially if it’s someone getting hanged due to their actions which George Orwell saw when he was an officer of the prison in Burma. Orwell wrote a story called A Hanging, which is about a prisoner who was treated unfairly and executed in the end. Orwell took note of the abuse towards the prisoner which made him realize that tormenting and slowly ending the prisoner life is not correct. Orwell had views that disagreed on how you should punish someone in a way that shouldn't be unmentioned, which helps to understand his views by his writing style of imagery, metaphor, and irony. Orwell utilized what he saw to help convey his message, but what he was trying to prove was that punishment to a human shouldn’t be allowed at all. In an area that was filled with sorrow, Orwell, in the beginning, would describe the unthinkable condition for the prisoner to endure with imagery. Imagery helps him highlight his disapproval of this punishment.

Orwell illustrates the area as “a sodden morning of the rains” as weather that fits the setting, and as “A sickly light, like yellow tinfoil” which sets the feel of the area. This makes the reader concerned for the prisoner to be in an atmosphere that looks so unforgiving. With sympathy, Orwell later states the prisoner appearance and how he went through a series of aggression what causes the reader to imagine the fate of the prisoner and how wrong it is for him to go through the punishment. Also, they can’t ignore how cruel this is because he’s not treated as a normal being, but as a criminal. Orwell would phase the man as “a Hindu, a puny wisp of a man, with a shaven head and vague liquid eyes”. Who was “handcuffed, passed a chain through his handcuff and fixed it to the belts of the officers, and lasted his arms tight to his sides”. Orwell also phases the man being checked by a group of officers to make sure he’s alive for the process. “It was like men handling a fish which is still alive and may jump back into the water”. This is an example of cruelty towards a human can lead to a road to displeasure. Before the execution, Orwell would then realize the prisoner résistance after going through the process. Orwell affirms of, “the mystery, the unspeakable wrongness, of cutting a life short when it’s in full tide. This man was not dying, he was alive just as we were alive”. This sets the reader to imagine Orwell surprised that the prisoner wouldn’t give an inch of his life away.

Orwell’s usage of imagery helps him to write his point clearly, without making Orwell think too much for what he saw. Orwell’s view of the condition for the prisoner looks inhumane and causes stress for the reader to use imagery and to imagine the issue now is more impactful. Orwell would wish that he stopped this process but under the rule, he is powerless. During the process, Orwell would see a dog in the middle of the story that would represent his example for his message. Orwell sets the dog as a metaphor to represent guilt and innocence towards feeling pity with the prisoner. Orwell looks at the dog “bounding among us with a loud volley of barks, and leapt round us wagging its whole body, wild with glee at finding so many human beings together”. This is a metaphor but symbolic to make the reader feel the dog would show signs of compassion around the prisoner and guards, meaning the dog can bring them closer. The phrase makes the reader want to believe the dog is showing hope for humans around. The dog would continue playing around until “Who let that bloody brute in here? Said the superintendent angrily. Catch it, someone”. This represents the superintendent showing no sympathy towards the dog or anyone but now reforming the dilemma. He would mention the dog escaping the grasps of the officers by stating “A young Eurasian jailer picked up a handful of gravel and tried to stone the dog away, but it dodged the stones and came after us again”. This causes the reader to question the validity of mistreating the dog while comparing to a human because they only show their innocence in an area filled with despair. Orwell would mention that the dog was around until it realized that it was too late to turn back when he saw the prisoner dead. The dog would “galloped immediately to the back of the gallows; but when it got there it stopped short, barked, and then retreated into a corner of the yard, where it stood among the weeds, looking timorously out of us”. This represents a metaphor of how the prison of Burma can’t no longer forget the guilt of removing a man and how the dog now has to endure the pain of another life taken away.

Overall, Orwell’s metaphors have been very useful in his writing in order to make his views feel important for him and that they stand out for him. Orwell’s view of cruel punishment which includes speaking metaphorically of the dog’s innocence which may not connect with an argument, but it does help to enforce the idea of why to disapprove it. Orwell would describe the aftermath of the prisoner executed in terms of irony. This plays the current situation of cruel punishment and the result of successfully executing a prisoner at the end of the story. Orwell notes the situation, but the superintendent and the guards won't because they wouldn’t even notice what they have done. Paragraph 16 would describe the superintendent checking if the prisoner is still alive. “It oscillated, slightly. ‘He’s all right’, said the superintendent”. The superintendent would wait until “His moody look had gone out of his face quite suddenly. …. Eight minutes past eight, Well, that’s all this morning, thank god”. This represents irony because the prisoner was only keened as “all right”, but no one else seems concerned with what just happened. This causes the reader to think these are signs of how disinterested they were to see death around the prisoner. Another mention of irony is the group would move on with their day after their activity, without realizing that they just took a life away without a care, but yet they would act if it’s nothing. Orwell mentions, “An enormous relief had come upon us now that the job was done. One felt an impulse to sing, to break into a run, to snicker.

All at once everyone began chattering gaily”. This is another example irony of ignoring one death to enjoying one moment. At the end of the story, the group would enjoy retelling a story of how this guy was just another poor soul. Which draws a line of mentioning “The dead man was a hundred yards away”. This draws a line on how life and death was only the cause to its effect and how parallel they were matching one to another. Within the last phrase of the story, Orwell reminds us that it’s now easy to forget the prisoner who just died in the hands of the guards in which they could have stopped. This makes the reader understand the true immortality of punishing a human. The idea of irony helped us to understand more on what Orwell is proving, which help his writing to feel more distinctive about him and his views. Orwell view on cruel punishment highlights the irony of the prisoner fate and it’s only viewed as an illusion for the guards.

This proves of how punishment shouldn’t be this way. Orwell experienced A Hanging of a life taken away made him to convince others, including himself that the cruel intentions of harming the prisoner should not exist at all. Orwell was able to bring forth on how he was against human punishment and questioned the validity, in order to make his views clear. With the use of imagery, metaphor, and irony, the reader was able to understand clearly the styles of this writing and its meaning that felt simple but yet complicated. Orwell would feel empathy with the prisoner and how the prisoner was put in an area that changed his life. And he would feel the same for the dog as the creature was treated the same way as the prisoner was, but the result was different. Out of all the styles that were used, I believe irony out of everyone was the most impactful.

10 December 2020
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