The language of “A Hanging” by George Orwell is easy to follow, although the author occasionally uses some local words like: “boxwallah”, “pannikin”, or “lathis”. The choice of words reflects the prison environment. The narrator talks of cells, bayonets, hangman, superintendent, head jailer, warders, and so on.

The text is mostly written in the discursive narrative mode, but there are also a few dialogue lines included, used to render what the narrator hears. Note that neither the narrator nor the convict is quoted speaking.

Sometimes the dialogue creates black humour due to the funny way in which Francis (the head jailer) speaks about the death of another prisoner:

‘Well, sir, all hass passed off with the utmost satisfactoriness. It wass all finished - flick! like that. It iss not always so - oah, no! I have known cases where the doctor wass obliged to go beneath the gallows and pull the prisoner's legs to ensure decease. Most disagreeable!’ 


Imagery is used to vividly depict parts of the setting, the convict, and parts of the action. Here is one example in which imagery helps us form a mental image of what the prison looks like:

We were waiting outside the condemned cells, a row of sheds fronted with double bars, like small animal cages. Each cell measured about ten feet by ten and was quite bare within except for a plank bed and a pot of drinking water. 

And here is an example of imagery related to the character of the convict and his actions:

He walked clumsily with his bound arms, but quite steadily, with that bobbing gait of the Indian who never straightens his knees. At each step his muscles slid neatly into place, the lock of hair on his scalp danced up and down, his feet printed themselves on the wet gravel. 

Similes and metaphors

The dominant figure of speec...

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