Type: Literary Analysis
Pages: 3 | Words: 603
Reading Time: 3 Minutes

This is a sample essay that should not be submitted as an actual assignment

‘A Hanging’ written by George Orwell is murky and ominous. This narrative is about capital punishment, which is a very contentious topic.

The essay A Hanging (1931), by George Orwell, tells an incident from his life as a policeman in Burma, wherein he observes a criminal being put to death. He is indifferent by what he sees, until he observes the fated man avoid avoiding a pond as he is frog-marched to the scaffold.

At a jail in Burma, Orwell and other officials are waiting to concentrate the execution of a Hindu prisoner. The prisoner leftovers inert as guards bind his arms and demonstration him to the scaffold, followed by the collected officials. Orwell, watching the prisoner’s back, understands for the first time how erroneous it is to obliterate a vigorous human being.


The theme of ‘The Hanging’ is of a dystopia-type earth which has been shattered by war, deceit, and, of course, the Party. It’s a gloomy film which illustrates the dreadfulness of the world. The main theme is that power brings out the worst in everybody.

This story is addressed

  • capital punishment,
  • physiological and emotional responses to strain.


Orwell paints a magnificently strong picture of the man destined to death, the prison officers walking away, and the dog’s random actions amidst the somber juncture. The implementation procedure allows the contributors too mechanically and inconsiderately demeanor their business. The destined man’s automatic action of side-stepping the pond, vital to one’s own ongoing soothe later in the day, makes Orwell begin to think about the dissimilarity between being alive and being dead, and the dismay of what is being done in killing the man. He is living. His toenails are increasing. His blood is pumping, yet he avoids wetting his feet in that instant while in the next moment, he will be dead, gone from the world. In the end, Orwell contemplates how custom and ceremony prevent participants from thinking about their actions.

Throughout his dissertation the author explains, that the prisoners are treated like animals. We observe 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 manifest when he is telling the way it took six guards to accompany a “weak 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 essay shows how human beings can become tactless to the dismay of taking life, through day-to-day recurrence of murder. By using examples of the character’s anecdotal reactions at having to execute the obnoxious action, he also explores how people deal with the perception of taking another’s life. Scrupulous care is taken by Orwell not to disclose the nature of the destined man’s crime, which places the center of the portion on the action of taking the man’s life, and not on the ethical decision of climate or not his punishment, is fitting his crime.


This case is just an instance of the horrifying hangings caused from discrimination. Furthermore, it explains it from a point of view that normally is not taken in count: the one of a guard, and his horrible experience of killing a blameless man. With the guard’s explanation of the scene we can see that he is not as bad as he seems to be, and in the bottomless of his heart, he has good feelings, he only doesn’t know what to do with them, and he just follows his job and his partners. 

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