George Orwell: Essays

A Hanging Prose Analysis College

George Orwell, most reputable for his novels Animal Farm (1945) and Nineteen Eighty-four (1949) uses his signature transparent writing style to record a personal anecdote of ‘A Hanging’ conducted in a Burmese prison camp where he worked during the British colonial era. Though not explicitly stated, the narrative demonstrates the process of cyclic desensitization towards acts of injustice due to purposeful self-blinding combined with subconscious effect from embedded societal norms. Orwell shows his recognition of these processes evolve over the course of the narrative through use of characters and metonyms. Despite the recount presenting non-fiction events as they happened from beginning to end structure, Orwell’s piece displays literary techniques used to ‘move’ his readers, thus making it a work of power over knowledge.

From the first paragraph onward, it is immediately noticeable how withdrawn the workers of the penal institution were from the detained prisoners. “We were waiting outside the condemned cells, a row of sheds fronted with double bars, like small animal cages. These were the condemned men, due to be hanged within the next week or two.” This extract suggests that the captives were identified to the writer merely...

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