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Power And Powerlessness Essay

1290 words - 5 pages

By Kayleigh Andrew

"Man is born to seek power, yet his actual condition makes him a slave to the power of others." - Hans J Morgenthau.

It is true that man is born to seek power. Man is ambitious and craves to have power over others. Usually this means gaining power by controlling other people or gaining power by gaining money and status. A power theme that is present in many books and movies is supernatural power - magic. Power can also be perceived as the control one has over oneself and ones situation. The problems that many people encounter start once they have acquired the power that they seek and have a new form of power holding control over them. By man seeking more and more power, he becomes subject to power wielded by others.

One of the most prominent embodiments of the quote in the three plays that I have read is Prospero from the Tempest by William Shakespeare. Prospero was the Duke of Milan which was a position of power but he was more interested in pursuing another form of power - the knowledge of magic - he was so distracted by his search for this power that his brother, Antonio, was able to steal his Dukedom and become powerful while Prospero was left powerless and stranded on the island. Prospero gains the power of magic once on the island through Ariel and ultimately gains his Dukedom back through the magical power although he gives up the magic, he is still powerful and Antonio ends up powerless - Prospero: "No. For you, most wicked sir, whom to call brother Would even infect my mouth, I do forgive Thy rankest fault; all of them; and require My dukedom of thee, which perforce, I know, Thou must restore." (act 5, scene 1). His story ends better than most.

Caliban is an unfortunate character in the Tempest. He originally had power on the island because he was the only one on it and he knew everything about. Once Prospero and Miranda arrive on the island, Caliban shares his knowledge of the island in exchange for Prospero teaching him how to read. This can be seen as giving up his power (as knowledge can be seen as power) in exchange for a different type of power. Caliban is then under Prospero's power and when he tries to take power back by raping Miranda. Prospero:� "Thou most lying slave, Whom stripes may move, not kindness! I have used thee, Filth as thou art, with human care, and lodged thee In mine own cell, till thou didst seek to violate The honour of my child." (Act 1 scene 2). He is made even more powerless by Prospero's magic and is unable to change his situation - Caliban: "I say, by sorcery he got this isle; From me he got it. If thy greatness will Revenge it on him,-for I know thou darest, But this thing dare not" (act 3 scene 2).

Antonio is the main antagonist of the tempest. He was so power hungry that he betrayed his own brother to gain power in the form of the Dukedom of Milan. When stranded on the island, he tries to...

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