Abuses of Power in Literature
At times, people of authority will use their power to their own advantage.
Often, too much power can go to that particular person’s head, and he/she can become corrupt. As readers have seen in literature, abuses of power are often harmful to the abuser and their subjects. Corrupted authority and abuses of power eventually lead to the collapse of society. This concept is shown many times throughout the novel Lord Of the Flies and the short story “I Only Came to Use the Phone”. Displayed through characters and actions, abusive power has dominated what should be morally correct in literature.
Characters have played a large role in setting the theme of abusive power; they gain power over a group of individuals and misguide them. One obvious example from Lord Of the Flies was Jack. Towards the beginning of the novel, when the “elections” for the leader of the group took place Jack tried to get power. “‘I ought to be chief,’ said Jack with simple arrogance, ‘because I’m the chapter chorister and head boy. I can sing C sharp’” (Golding 22). After losing the election to Ralph, he became the head of the hunters. Here he abused the miniscule powers given to him over the small group of boys formerly known as the “choir”. Jack’s influence possibly corrupted the minds of the young boys and made them into cold blooded killers going from killing pigs for food to harming humans for enjoyment. “The circle moved round. Robert squealed in mock terror then in real pain… Jack had him by the hair and was brandishing his knife.” (Golding 114). The significance of this was that it was the first major point that lead to the collapse of society on the island. Jack thought that Ralph did not appreciate what he was doing for the group by getting meat so Jack split off into his own tribe where he further abused his powers and taught his tribe to participate in theft, murder, and odd rituals.
Similar to the abuse of power at the hands of Jack, a character from the short story “I Only Came to Use the Phone” nicknamed “Herculina” by the inmates and authority in the sanatorium, abused her power as well. “She was in charge of difficult cases, and two inmates had been strangled to death by her polar bear arm skilled in the art of killing by mistake.” (Marquez 75). The significance of this abuse was that it aided the higher authority in collapsing the society of the sanatorium. Herculina was an abuser of her physical power and her authority in the short story. She can be easily compared to Jack in the forms of intimidation and abuse of power. “‘He’s going to beat Wilfred.’… Robert shook his head doubtfully. ‘I don’t know. He didn’t say. He got angry and made us tie Wilfred up.’” (Golding 159). On the other hand Herculina got her power from higher authority. It could be said that the director of the sanatorium abused his own power in the form of allowing such a brute to work as a matron at the mental institution. ...