Human life is unquestionably the greatest treasure that any human being can have. It is something that cannot be measured in monetary terms. Indeed, human life is among the few things on planet earth whose value cannot be determined or even estimated. The value that the human society attaches to life has significantly subsided in the recent past (Rodden 12).
Human life is no longer treated with the same reverence that it was regarded with a few centuries ago. In the contemporary society, human life is not only taken by murderers but also by legal action imposed by the state. This essay will seek to posit that it is morally incorrect for the state to take human life. The essay will achieve its objective by relying on various illustrations from George Orwell’s essay “A Hanging.”
First and foremost, it is not morally correct for the state to take human life because such a brutal measure will not help in any way to discipline the convict. By taking the human life of the convict, the state does not give the prisoner a chance to reform his or her character. It is possible that just by serving a jail term, some convicts will reform their character and be transformed into normal and responsible members of the society.
It is immoral and unnecessary for a state to execute a convict because enclosing a person in a prison cell is enough to bring regret to such a person. The alienation that prisoners experience is an experience that they will not want to go through again after being released from prison. The time that the prisoners spend in the prisons makes them to waste away. In his article, Orwell describes the man executed in his story as a “puny wisp of a man” (613).
This description makes it clear that the man had had a rough time in prison. This is normally the case with prisoners. The difficult life in a prison makes them to grow miserable and waste away in virtually every part of their body. It is certain that anybody who is robust at their first day in prison will come out looking frail and beaten by the end of the jail term. It is unlikely that such a person will recidivate once released from prison. Therefore, the execution of such is clearly immoral and undeserved.
Furthermore, the taking of human life by the state is immoral because it causes overwhelming grief to those people who are attached to the convict. The pain that such persons go through at the realization that they will never see the convict again is agonizing. The narrator in the article keenly describes the emotional grief that grips the onlookers witnessing the execution of the convict (615).
It is obvious that these people did not know the man who was facing the execution. If these strangers sympathized with the man, then the pain that the family and friends of such convicts go through is unimaginable.
In addition, the taking away of human life by the state is immoral because it leaves behind unfortunate orphans, widows and widowers. To permanently detach an individual from his or her family is an immoral act against humanity. There are cases where those executed are breadwinners in their families.
The families are therefore in a state of utter penury after their execution. The children of such a family are most likely to drop out of school and indulge in other illegal activities in a bid to overcome their stress or earn a living. Such activities include drug trafficking and child prostitution. Therefore, the execution of convicts by the state may lead to the proliferation of more criminal activities.
The state also acts immorally when it takes away human life because it compels some people to unwillingly carry out the execution. Once it is stipulated in the law, it is upon those instructed by the state to carry out the execution irrespective of whether they approve the act or not. Such acts cause emotional turmoil in the people who carry out the executions.
The emotional disturbance often comes about because the executioner could be having a lot of reverence and respect for human life. Orwell presents an ironical situation where the superintendent who sanctions the executions is assailed by feelings of remorse towards the man in the gallows (615).
The superintendent is unable to give the executioner a go-ahead to carry out the executioner because he is overcome with grief. The entire team of onlookers is also relieved after the execution has been completed. Everybody sighs that it is finally over. This also portends that the onlookers had a hard time witnessing the execution. The narrator in the story is also affected by the execution of the man. This is echoed in the words:
“When I saw the prisoner step aside to avoid the puddle I saw the mystery, the unspeakable wrongness, of cutting a life short when it is in full tide.” (Orwell 614).
This emotional disturbance caused by the state to other people by taking away human life rules the act as immoral. The state should look into such considerations and bring human execution to a permanent stop.
It is also an immoral act for the state to take away human life because it totally shatters the dreams and aspiration that such people could be having for their lives. The goals that the convicts could be having in their lives are brought to extinction with their executions. This is an immoral act that should be brought to a halt. In his article, Orwell vividly describes the hearty sobs made by the man while on the gallows (615). The man possibly wept because of the painful reality that his dreams would not come to any fruition.
Lastly, the state’s act of taking human life is immoral because it denies the convicts the chance to live their life to the length that they were destined to live. No one possesses the right to terminate a person’s life. This act is even worse because no one is capable of creating a human life. It is therefore immoral for the state to destroy that which it is not in a position to create. By doing so, the State contravenes the doctrine of natural rights accorded to all individuals, including the murderers themselves (Davison 3).
It is therefore evident from the above discussion that it is not morally right for the state to take the life of a person. This is because of the adverse effects that such an action has on the convicts and the people around them. Of most importance, however, is the fact that human life should always be revered and treated with the highest level of respect.
Davison, Peter. The Complete Works of George Orwell. New York: Secker & Warburg, 1998. Print.
Orwell, George. “A Hanging.” Reading Literature and Writing Argument. Ed. James
Missy and Merickel Alan. New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2004. 613. Print.
Rodden, John. The Cambridge Companion to George Orwell. Cambridge University Press, 2007. Print.