A Hanging By George Orwell Analysis

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Imperialism and colonialism involve a large nation overpowering a smaller nation-state in order to increase its own power and wealth. Rarely does this practice occur without the invading forces bringing pain and misery to the natives of the province. George Orwell, an author and a member of the British Imperial Police, wrote several essays about his experiences during Britain's rule in Burma for the British literary magazine The Adelphi in 1931. Readers of The Adelphi, consisting mainly of British citizens, were not close to Burma, and had no knowledge of the Burmese people's suffering prior to anything that was documented by British newspapers. George Orwell gives his British audience a look at the horror that is imperialism in his essay, "A Hanging," by detailing the execution of a Burmese prisoner. Orwell's recollection of the hanging of a Burmese man uses imagery while also displaying the poor treatment of an oppressed man in a British …show more content…
The narrator sees the prisoner avoid a puddle, and realizes with horror that he is aiding in the destruction of a "healthy, conscious man" (Orwell 46). Orwell continues to describe the actions of the Burmese man's body, how the man would no longer grow when dead, and that in a group of reasoning men, "one of us would be gone—one less mind, one world less" (Orwell 56-57). Although the narrator knows he is about to participate in an action that contradicts with his personal views, he does nothing to stop the execution. This scene coincides with Orwell's usage of situational irony, as the narrator leads the audience to believe he might attempt to free the prisoner, yet allows the execution to proceed with no adversity. Having captured the audience's attention, Orwell temporarily pauses his narration of events, and delivers an aside that provides the main point of his essay: the British Imperial Soldiers are barbaric in their treatment of the Burmese

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