Read the essay "A Hanging" by George Orwell. These are my reflections from reading it.
Analysis/Reflection of George Orwell "A Hanging"
The idea of how precious life is always comes with the rebuttal that life is merely an experience that it is overvalued. There is a complete exploration of both of these perspectives in the short essay titled, "A Hanging" By George Orwell. The essay deals with the heavy topic of death in a way that encapsulates the human reaction to death. With the use of imagery and vivid description Orwell tries to carry the depth of life and death. The essay not only explores topics of life and death, but delves into the subject of consciousness, mortality, and humanity.
Our conscious is one of the wonderful mysteries that puzzle us humans, it is what separates us from other species, as we are intrinsically able to be conscious and questioning of everything and anytime. Orwell explores the organic connection that humans have with others unconsciously, in relation to the awaiting execution of a man. "In spite of the men who gripped him by each shoulder, he stepped slightly aside to avoid a puddle on the path." The very irrelevance of this action exposes the depth of human connection with one another. As human's I personally believe that we are naturally wired to follow the golden rule, thus leading us to have respect for others whether we know them or not. Simple actions like sharing the sidewalk with someone no matter what their background is, or what their physical presence is, amongst other things. Is what we innately do. Orwell uses this very action to show that there is a sense of respect humans have for one another universally. The prisoner awaiting death is stripped of all rights, his status as a prisoner and someone who will be dead in the next few minutes devalue him. The guards could have easily lead him into the puddle or disciplined him for stepping away from the puddle. They didn't for the very reason that they have an understanding that it is natural to avoid a puddle, even for someone who is the lowest status, awaiting death; they would not lead him into a puddle. Orwell captures this small yet powerful moment in the essay which sparks an analysis about consciousness.
Mortality is something that is inevitable and is the only guarantee with the gift of life. The idea of life and death is such a basic and primitive cycle as a whole, but is simultaneously the most profound subject that we as humans are met with. There is a constant weight that humans carry which is the fear of death, we do await the death of others but we cannot avoid it either. In the Western world, the society and culture puts a deep importance to the loss of a human life, as we mourn for long periods of time. Where as in some Eastern and tribal societies, death is not something that is mourned for as strongly as it is in the West, people have come to the conclusion that life is at in the end just a cycle. Some may say death in the West is overrated and we value life too much, this can possibly be because of the rarity of it happening unnaturally and untimely. I do agree that death is an inevitable and normal thing that occurs and we put too much value on human life which is too inconsistent. Orwell takes these two ideas and formulates beautiful literate understanding of the preciousness of life while covering the insignificant similar to life as a whole. Orwell writes: "...I saw the mystery, the unspeakable wrongness, of cutting a life short when it is in full tide. This man was not dying, he was alive just as we were alive." and states "He and we were a party of men walking together, seeing, hearing, feeling, understanding the same world; and in two minutes, with a sudden snap, one of us would be gone -- one mind less, one world less." The greatness of these two statements hold a lot of value to what mortality is. On one hand you have a deep sadness in response to untimely death, and the fact that he is as alive as everyone else. Orwell provokes the idea of how strange death can really be as one second you are alive and next you are gone. The similarity in the experience is for all, life is too complex to be summarized but whereas death is the same for all, we are alive one moment and our senses are the same as all, the next moment it is all gone. Furthermore Orwell provides the reader with 2 perspectives based on the weight we put on death. Do we like Eastern cultures understand that death is literally just one mind less, or do we overvalue it and think of it as one world less? That is the major dilemma and to claim that the two societies don't mutually feel pain for death is ignorant. Death is a strange and irreversible action in which somber and gloom follow behind, the acceptance of death is all based on the living.
There is a continuation of the theme of humanity throughout the essay. There is a change in direction of how humanity can at one moment be so such anguish and discomfort, to being happy the next, but also a reflection into how death affects the nature of humans. Death is a serious topic and it can be unbearable watching someone die, it is a very traumatizing experience but the living must understand that life will go on for those who are alive. Orwell captures the intensity of the moment of death and thereafter but also efficiently shows the change in emotion that is followed by time. The reader can grasp the aura that Orwell feels as the man is led to the gallows, you can hear the haunting chants the prisoner lets out as he prepares for death. The eight minute wait time till the prisoner is finally dead shocks the reader and puts into perspective how eerie the setting is. Orwell does this exactly to convey the true emotions that humans feel when they experience a death, the gravity of the fact that a person is no longer is truly an unforgettable experience. While the read is intoxicated with this climax, they are then shown the truth about death, that it is merely a part of the greater cycle of life. The reader experience the lack of remorse or irrelevance of a death that happened merely minutes ago. There is a complete shift of mood as the characters simply continue on with the day, even begin to joke and be thankful that they don't have to experience hanging that day. There is a change in the entire atmosphere, which Orwell intentionally does to show the truth that life comes and goes, but life goes on more importantly. Death is such a hefty concept in the moment but with the nature of humanity or there lack of, death has a very minuscule effect on humanity as a whole.
Though life and death are loaded subject's Orwell classfully navigates through both under and above the soil when explaining these subjects. Highlighting and approaching the intensity of the scene in an unapologetically human way. The way that Orwell tackles the consciousness of humans while on the other hand investigating mortalities effect on the living is organic. He then leaves the reader feeling shocked but simultaneously guilty of the fact that our humanity teaches us to move on. Humans live, and die and we experience an array of emotions which at one moment can have us feeling on edge and focussed and the next we can be careless and cheerful, it is what makes us alive and human after all.