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Morality Play, And The Abuse Of Power

1195 words - 5 pages

The Abuse of Power in the book Morality Play Many centuries ago, the wise King Arthur once stated," Might does not make right." A thoughtful and compelling comment that serves humanity as a reminder that having power does not justify its abuse. However, even with this warning to future leaders, the abuse of power has been running rampant throughout history. Barry Unsworth's book Morality Play focuses on England in the late-medieval period, a particularly unsavory time when nobles abused their power on a daily basis. Anyone who wasn't fortunate enough to be rich was continually mistreated and misused whenever possible. The country was ragged, plague-wracked, and trembling on the brink of the modern. The story starts out with Nicholas Barber, a young priest who has hopped over the wall of his safe cathedral appointment, prompted by sheer boredom and "spring" urges. He meets up with a band of traveling players, costume clothed and penniless, led by the theatrical genius of Martin Bell. The players travel to a town where a murder has just recently been committed and take the task upon them to solve the murder by putting on a play about it to find the truth. But the closer they get to the truth, the more danger they are put in. They discover countless abuses of power while searching, from the morally corrupt town priest, to Lord De Guise's vicious son. Their first encounter with considerable abuse of power comes from the town priest, a quite unsavory fellow. Entering with the recently departed player Brendan's body in tow, the player's first order of business, a proper burial for their friend, must be taken care of. The town priest is called upon to perform the funeral, but only for an exuberant fee of four shillings for what Stephen interprets as," "¦mumbling over a hole in the earth and the lump of clay they fill it with." Martin agrees to the fee but rages at the priest's greed: " As ignorant of doctrine as of grace!" The priest, a mockery of his very title, who," "¦sleeps through confession" and whose real talents lie in,"drinking a flagon and exact [ing] their dues." While the workers slave away in the fields, the priests and nobles use their ill-gotten power to,""¦keep folk [s] tied to the land." Adding to their anger is the priests open use of a concubine. "I daresay she was dressed for keeping house," Margaret, the mistress of Stephen and non-player, remarks. The priest has abused his power to the fullest by making a joke of his job and using it instead to keep whores and full his own greed. But the abuse of power extends further up the ladder than just priests. The murder of Thomas Wells, a young peasant boy, has given higher powers an excuse for the arrest of an innocent girl. Upon hearing of the boy's death, Lord De Guise's confessor, a Benedictine monk by the name of Simon Damian, intended to frame a local revolutionary...

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