Give some examples of sensory details in "A Hanging" by George Orwell.

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Sensory description is defined by its ability to combine as many of the five senses as possible in order to create a strong image of what the writer is trying to describe. It therefore is characterised not just by sight, the most common element in descriptions, but also the incorporation of touch, smell, hearing and taste. In "A Hanging," Orwell writes of a hanging that he witnessed during his colonial years in Burma. One great example of how hearing is combined with visual description is in the following example, where the prisoner's cries before being hung are described:

It was a high, reiterated cry of ‘Ram! Ram! Ram! Ram!’, not urgent and fearful like a prayer or a cry for help, but steady, rhythmical, almost like the tolling of a bell. The dog answered the sound with a whine.

Note the use of the simile, "like the tolling of a bell," that is used to convey the repetition of the cry of "Ram" at the same high tone and how it was delivered. This helps paint a very strong picture of the image and aids the reader in not only seeing the scene but also hearing it in his head as well. For other examples, consider how the sound of the dog is described, and then the sound of the men after the hanging is conveyed. Orwell mostly uses the sensory detail of hearing together with visual description in order to convey what he is describing.

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