The Use Of Language And Imagery In A Hanging By George Orwell
George Orwell is a democratic socialist, he was known for his powerful opinions in which he addressed some of the crucial and significant political problems of the time, including imperialism, fascism and communism.
“A hanging” is a considered a semi-autobiographical text written by George Orwell in which he powerfully describes the execution of a criminal and illustrates his belief on how capital punishment is morally wrong. Orwell is surprised by how nonchalant they were during the execution and he describes that fiercely through the utilization of language, symbolism, imagery, tone, and irony. Orwell uses language through a hanging to demonstrate to his readers how inconsiderate they all were throughout the execution. “It was in Burma, a sodden morning of the rains. A sickly light, like yellow tinfoil, was slanting over the high walls into the jail yard. ” Orwell used “it” in the beginning of the story to build a sense of mystery that will be further described in the essay. He also uses the adjective “sodden, ” sodden means saturated with liquid, especially water. This conveys that the scenery was soaked with water which symbolizes an unpromising ambience. The adjective “sickly” was also used to demonstrate the unpleasant color being reflected by the light. Sickly comes from the word “sick” which means “ill” which represent poor health and a precarious scene. “We were waiting outside the condemned cells” “We set out for the gallows. ”
“Then we put my handkerchief through its collar” Orwell uses the word “we” instead of “I” because he doesn’t want to feel responsible for the monstrous action of taking a life. “We” is also a great way to create a sense of “us vs them” attitude to emphasize the difference between the prisoners and the guards. “a puny wisp of a man, with a shaven head and vague liquid eyes. ” “A puny wisp” is a way to make us picture a physically frail man. Orwell describes him in this manner to make him seem like a victim and not a convicted criminal. “Vague liquid eyes” Orwell’s statement of vague means that it’s lacking clarity, almost making him seem innocent and not a criminal. It could create a sense of suspense wether or not he is a dangerous convict or an innocent person. He also makes us question the brutality of his coming death, and is it even supposed to happen?
Orwell also uses imagery to make us feel like we are with him in the situation and make us imagine what we are reading. “A sickly light, like yellow tin foil” this is a simile used by Orwell to demonstrate the unpleasant color, “yellow” is usually a sick color. When a person looks pale, they usually have a pigmented color in their face which is yellow. They are both linked to illness therefore the writer is expressing that the sunlight is unusually off-color. This reflects how unnatural the situation is. Under ordinary conditions “light” and “tinfoil” are glimmering yet to propose they are ill-looking is to suggest that all are not well in prison.
I trust that Orwell’s depiction of a tense atmosphere helps the reader comprehend that an abnormal occasion may take place, consequently, this incites the nervousness and a panic reaction towards the overall situation. “The condemned cells…like small animal cages” this is another simile used to compare the condemned cells to animal cages. This symbolizes how awful the situation is as there are comparing a jail made for humans to animal cages which are pretty small. The line dehumanizes the victim as it compare a human cell to an animal cell. This creates sympathy and maybe pity from the reader because no one deserves to be treated like that. “It was like men handling a fish…water” this suggests how nervous the guards were when handling the prisoner. Fish usually move around a lot when caught and eventually goes back to the sea. They were afraid something similar will happen to the prisoners, where the prisoner will move around until he escapes and cannot be found again. However, the prisoner was not resisting despite them handling him in an awkward manner. This imagery suggests that the prisoners were uncomfortable in taking his life.