A Hanging and A Tell-Tale Heart

1541 Words7 Pages
Within a short story, there is usually an obstacle that the main character has to persevere through. Between the characters of the guard from George Orwell’s “A Hanging” and the servant from Edgar Allen Poe’s “A Tell-Tale Heart”, they both experience the act of taking another person’s life. The guard from “A Hanging” works at a prison in Burma where felons await execution. His job is to lead the convicted men to their doom and makes sure everything goes routinely and swift. While the servant from “A Tell-Tale Heart” is a psychopathic man who lets his obsession over his boss’s glasseye lead him to plot and carry out his death. Throughout both stories, the protagonists reach a moment when they need to take part in the organized killings…show more content…
As shown, the guard finds it hard to accept the justifications for killing. He sees life as something precious and feels that even if the option to end someone’s life is there, using it would be inhumane. On the other hand, in the story of “The Tell-Tale Heart” it is clearly shows that the servant has no regard for life. He states that “whenever [the eye] fell upon me, my blood ran cold” (Poe 1). This “very gradually” (Poe 1) led him to the point where he “made up [his] mind to take the life of the old man, and thus rid [himself] of the eye forever” (Poe 1). This alone displays that the servant considers life as something that is simply disposable because he sees one flaw in the old man. He feels that the only way to be able to be satisfied is to get rid of what is bothering him. When it comes to both of these characters, their views on apply death are completely different. The guard sees that there is something wrong with ending the life ofsomeone who is completely healthy, while the servant feels that life is something that could be cut short and ended without a second though. Finally, both protagonists differ in the way they react to the deaths. For the prison guard as soon as the killing took place “an enormous relief had come upon [them] now that the job was done” (Orwell 34-35). The killing causes such a burden on him and the rest of the staff because it was their duty as guards, they never have any say as to if they could spare the prisoner.
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