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Power Is A Destructive Force In Human Society

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  • Pages: 5
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  • Category: Society

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Power is the ability to exert authority, control or to influence another person or party. 1 Power has played its part in shaping and moulding human society to what it is today, but human society’s destructive nature has also been shown over the centuries through the misuse of power. Through conflicts, strife and oppression, this destructive nature is revealed. This is a recurring motif that is evident in George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty Four, and Oliver Hirschbiegel’s Downfall Firstly, power is shown to be a destructive force in human society in the text Nineteen Eighty Four.

This is clearly shown through George Orwell’s use of an invasive authoritarian government, not allowing individual thought among its citizens. This is portrayed in the text mainly through the use of telescreens, a device used by the antagonistic government in this text to monitor the lives of its citizens. George Orwell’s use of verisimilitude is shown in the quote, “in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in the darkness, every movement scrutinised.

The effect of this is to create a sense of reality in the reader’s mind, and to reinforce the invasiveness of the authoritarian government. It displays the intrusive measures that the authoritarian government puts into effect, using the telescreen to show the misuse of power of the government upon its citizens. What’s more, George Orwell uses Winston Smith, the protagonist of Nineteen Eighty Four to show the fight for freedom and the rebellion against the ideology and invasiveness of the party.

Winston Smith represents the archetypal rebel whose actions and attitude go against the norm, against the authoritarian orthodoxy. Winston Smith is shown in the book to rebel against the government’s blatant misuse of power, and the reader feels an empathetic connection towards Winston because of this. Secondly, George Orwell also shows the destructive force of power in human society through the authoritarian government’s abuse of power depicted through the vaporisation of those citizens that do not conform to the ideology of the party.

The party does not care for the citizens, and will vaporise its citizens if they even show beginning signs of defiance or rebelliousness. In the text, George Orwell highlights this point vividly when he writes, “The party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power… power is not a means; it is an end. ” The aim of this quote is to demonstrate the corruptness of the party, so much in fact, that they care nothing for the people that they rule, the citizens.

This is a clear and definite example of the misuse of power and power as a destructive force in human society, in that the party would not hesitate to kill its citizens, if their views happened to differ from those of the party. In addition, George Orwell gives us an insight into a citizen’s disappearance; “Syme had vanished… Syme had ceased to exist: he had never existed. ” The reason why George Orwell includes this in his story is to show the control that the authoritarian government has over its citizens, in that when they vaporise someone, he suddenly just ceases to exist, he was never even alive.

The text Nineteen Eighty Four clearly shows that power is a destructive force in human society, mainly focusing on the conformation of citizens to the ideology of the totalitarian government in power. The destructive nature of power in human society can also be seen in the film Downfall directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel. This text concentrates on the last days of Hitler, and the ramifications of his actions on himself and also on the people of Germany. Hitler’s power as the ‘Fuhrer’ of Germany gives him absolute power over the people of Germany. However, as a commonly known saying goes, “absolute power corrupts absolutely.

This is shown in the film Downfall, through images of both Hitler and Germany going from strong and proud to weak and war ravaged. A technique used in this film is characterisation, namely, the characterisation of Hitler. Hitler goes from a revered and respected leader to a weak, sickness ridden, old man full of ire. With various camera angles including high angle shots and close-ups of Hitler, Hitler is shown to be corrupted by the power that was given to him. The fact that Hitler’s hand shakes (and he hides it behind his back) shows that he is a sick, old man.

In addition, his temper tantrums and the high angle shots whilst he is having them, delicately stress the effect that the power has on him. It also shows his real insignificance and the fact that he raving and ranting because he isn’t getting his own way. A line in the movie spoken by Hitler reads, “The strongest can only be victorious by eradicating the weak”. The effect of this quote is to underline the corruptive nature that power can have on the owner of that power and that Hitler as an example of a corrupted leader, is so corrupt, that he in fact is weak but does not recognise it.

The results of his actions were also destructive to Germany. Berlin especially went from a normal, well functioning city to a war torn and fire ridden mass of rubble. Hitler’s misuse of power not only corrupted him, but affected Germany as well. Likewise, Oliver Hirschbiegel has used several other techniques to convey the general mood or tone of the film. These include dark coloured costuming, dark and gloomy lighting, and sad non-diagetic music.

All of these are used to create a sombre and melancholy mood, heightening the sadness and seriousness of Hitler’s actions in the film. Through Downfall, one may see that power is a destructive force in human society. In conclusion, one may clearly see that although power can be instrumental in shaping the world into what it is today, power can also be seen as a destructive force in human society, through both authoritarian power and the corruptive nature of power, as seen in the two texts, Nineteen Eighty Four by George Orwell and Downfall by Oliver Hirschbiegel.

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