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'A Hanging' Summary

Consolidating analysis: purpose; stance; narrative voice; setting; structure; mood/reader reaction; topicality
by

Jenna Hall

on 23 April 2015

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Transcript of 'A Hanging' Summary

George Orwell
'A Hanging'
Our Learning Intentions are to:
understand, analyse and evaluate 'A Hanging'.
strengthen our knowledge and awareness of the main points of the essay through a critical evaluation of the text.

Success Criteria:
Ability to summarise the central concerns of the text
Ability to highlight relevant literary techniques used to convey the main ideas of the text
Ability to evaluate how effective the text is
Critical Essay
Purpose


Stance


Narrative
Voice

Setting
to persuade the reader of the “unspeakable wrongness” of capital punishment
also implicitly presents a critical view of British Imperial rule in Burma
Mr E. A. Blair
'How a Nation Is Exploited – The British Empire in Burma'

"The government of all the Indian provinces under the control of the British Empire is of necessity despotic, because only the threat of force can subdue a population of several million subjects."

"... if Burma derives some incidental benefit from the English, she must pay dearly for it."

"Their relationship with the British Empire is that of slave and master."
anti-capital punishment
explicitly --> "unspeakable wrongness"
implicitly
1. personal pronoun - plural
2. personal pronoun - singular
3. personal pronoun - plural
BURMA
grim and depressing British prison run by British officials
Structure



Mood / reader reaction
* JOURNEY TO THE GALLOWS
sets the scene
focus on the prisoner

*THE DOG
contrast to the mood set

* THE EPIPHANY
moment of clarification
explicitly shows stance on capital punishment

*
THE HANGING
“Ram, Ram.”
Unbearable build up of tension.

* THE AFTERMATH
the dog’s reaction
description of relief juxtaposed with horrific anecdotes
laughing / drink together juxtaposed with final image of the dead man
Throughout this essay Orwell skilfully manipulates mood in order to engage the readers’ emotions and bolster his anti-capital punishment and anti-imperialistic messages.
•Depressing / sombre
•Sympathy
•Irritable / uncomfortable
•Dismay / surprise
•Horror
•Unbearable tension
•Relief
•Disgust and horror
•Unease
Success Criteria:
secure
UNDERSTANDING
of the ideas in the text
accurate and detailed
ANALYSIS
of the style
EVALUATION
of the effectiveness of the text based firmly on textual evidence
EXPRESSION
, which includes the use of appropriate critical terms, communicates your meaning clearly and develops a line of thought
In order to help us to understand his thoughts about capital punishment Orwell selects his detail carefully in the opening of his essay.
He begins with his description of the weather that day, portraying
“a sodden morning”
with
“a sickly light, like yellow tinfoil”
.
The use of the pathetic fallacy adds an ominous atmosphere, creating a dark and foreboding mood which is furthered by the simile. A scene of decay and misery is conveyed to the reader.
Orwell then gives a detailed description of the condemned cells, calling them
“small animal cages.”
This suggests that the conditions were inhumane; the prisoners were not treated as people, but as inferior, with little regard given to conditions and resulting suffering.

The way in which Orwell introduces his essay
infers his unhappiness over the treatment of the prisoners and suggests his outrage about the way they were treated.
PEER exemplar
'A Hanging'

* POINT * EVIDENCE *
EXPLANATION * RELATE TO Q *
POINT
EVIDENCE
EXPLANATION
RELATE TO QUESTION
Structuring your critical essay paragraphs
Introduce what your paragraph is going to be about. This should make it clear to the reader what your argument is. Ensure that your point is relevant to the task.

E.G.

A further technique Orwell uses to express his outrage against capital punishment is the use of a turning point.
POINT
EVIDENCE
Back up your point with an appropriate, well introduced quotation.

E.G.
On the way to the gallows Orwell notices the detail of the prisoner “stepping slightly aside to avoid a puddle on the path.”
EXPLANATION
Identify the technique(s) used by the author within the quote. Explain what your quotation means and how it backs up
your point. Comment on the effect and the impact on the reader.

E.G.
The double alliteration draws our attention to the importance of this incident to the structure of the essay and to the moment of epiphany.
Back up your point with an appropriate, well introduced quotation.

E.G.
Orwell states: “it is curious, but till that moment I had never realised what it means to destroy a healthy conscious man.”
EVIDENCE
EXPLANATION
Identify the technique(s) used by the author within the quote. Explain what your quotation means and how it backs up
your point. Comment on the effect and the impact on the reader.

E.G.
At this moment the wrongness of capital punishment becomes clear to Orwell.
Orwell uses imagery to explain his new thinking: “I saw the mystery, the unspeakable wrongness of cutting a life short when it is in full tide.”



Just as a full tide suggests water at its highest point, so too this man’s life was also full.
EVIDENCE
EXPLANATION
The word choice “unspeakable wrongness” expresses Orwell’s outrage and strong opinion that capital punishment in any circumstances is morally wrong because no human has the right to take the life of another.
RELATE TO Q
Full transcript