Theme Of Abolitionism In A Hanging

1525 Words 7 Pages
Why to be an Abolitionist George Orwell author of the short story “A Hanging” was not always a writer. Orwell from 1922 through 1927 acted as Assistant Superintendent in the British Imperial Police (Rodden 33). In his years as an enforcer of the law Orwell (formerly known as Eric Blair) grew sick of his heartless job and the uncaring bureaucrats who seemed to lack any awareness of the sanctity of human life, so “after five wasted years” he resigned his position (Rodden 33). Following this he changed his name from Eric Blair to George Orwell to save his family the embarrassment of being associated with him. “A Hanging” takes place at a prison in Burma, where Orwell and other officials are attending the execution of a Hindu man. The …show more content…
As Orwell watches this man sidestep a puddle to preserve a modicum of his innate dignity, Blair/Orwell realizes what they are about to do to this healthy human being is an “unspeakable wrongness”(Orwell 101). The message of “A Hanging” revolves around the inhumane nature of taking a human life. Orwell’s Abolitionist message in “A Hanging” is conveyed through the prisoner, the dog, the functionaries, and their actions, words, and body language.
When we first meet the prisoner he is described as a “puny wisp of a man”(Orwell 99)--someone who doesn’t look capable of even committing a capital crime. Author John Rodden notes, “ He is an Everyman, described only as “ a brown, sullen, puny wisp of a man with a shaven head and vague liquid eyes. He could be anyone—and that is the point: he could be you or I” (Rodden 72). Orwell never mentions what put this Hindu man on death row because to him it doesn’t matter what his crime is-- he is still a human being. The Indian warders shackling the prisoner are “ like men handling a fish
…show more content…
Orwell uses this technique throughout his entire essay to give the readers an insight to not only how the prisoners live in the animal cage like jail cells, but also in the way the functionaries of the prison can take a human life in an instant. Furthermore, because Orwell is a police officer who takes part in carrying out the execution, his testimony is an expert testimony, which strengths his case against capital punishment. This shows he has first hand knowledge of what is going through the minds of everyone attending the execution. Throughout the short Orwell paints a picture for his readers of the conditions of the prison and everyone involved in the executions’ reactions to convey his message. Another technique of argument Orwell uses in “a Hanging” is analogy. Orwell describes the jail cells as “ a row of sheds fronted with double bars, like small animal cages--bare within except for a plank bed and a pot of drinking water” (Orwell 99), implying they are treated like animals. Another strong analogy Orwell uses is comparing the way the guards handle the prisoner. He describes the guards are “ like men handling a fish which is still alive and may jump back into the water”. This strengthens Orwell’s’ case, because in his vivid descriptions he is making his readers sympathize with the Hindu man being dragged to his death. In the Abolitionist perspective capital punishment is the wrong

Related Documents

Related Topics