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The Loss Of Power And The Loss Of Purpose

1243 words - 5 pages

When people go through difficult situations, no matter how powerful they once were, it often leaves them feeling weak. This weakness has the potential to lead to the questioning of ones’ existence. Finding meaning in one’s existence, although temporarily helpful, unfortunately does not fill the void that occurs when the persons’ power is taken away from them. In both “Maus” and “I See You”, the idea of losing and regaining power through signification is shown through the characters of Vladek and Smith. Despite both of these characters going through experiences that weakened their initial power, both were able to regain some power through finding meaning and significance in their lives. Despite this, it is unfortunately not enough seeing as in the end, both characters still lived with the burden of their initial deterioration.

In both “Maus” and “I See you”, I believe that the characters of Vladek and Smith are initially portrayed as very powerful, strong people. Although they both experience very different situations for this to happen, their power deteriorates over time. In “Maus”, Vladek’s strong personality is portrayed through the stories he tells his son, Art. These stories consist of his experiences in the Holocaust, suffering under the reign of Nazi Germany. Throughout the oppression of the Jews, Vladek needed to maintain some sense of control within the camps in order to survive and one can see many instances where he was stronger than most people. As Vladek relives a moment with Anja in the camp, he says “To die, it’s easy..but you have to struggle for life..Until the last moment we must struggle together..and you’ll see that together we’ll survive” (Spiegelman, Vol I, 122). Despite this strength, for Vladek and all Jews that lived during the Holocaust, he was unable to keep full control of his and his family’s situation. Vladek explains to Art his feelings under Nazi oppression stating that “they took from us our papers, our clothes and our hair..We were cold and we were afraid” (Spiegelman, Vol II, 25). Vladek, having once been so strong is now seen as weaker due to the Holocaust. In “I See You”, Smith, who has created this new technology, is initially a very powerful man. Having created this device that is so widely used, he is extremely well known. Smith is both powerful due to his creation, but is also powerful due to the actions that his device allows him to make. Despite given a great deal of power, he realizes that perhaps, this new technology makes him and others lose their sense of privacy. People use Smith’s groundbreaking piece of technology “to spy on their neighbors and people in hotels” (Knight, 64). This misuse leaves Smith feeling out of control, with a lack of power.

Vladek and Smith both go through a process in which their power is unwillingly taken away from them. Despite this, through their own individual signification, both are able to find some sort of meaning to their seemingly meaningless life. In Maus,...

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