Can Power Corrupt You? Essay, Research Paper
The power of language is indisputable. Being unable to ?fit in? because you cannot communicate effectively with the dominant discourse puts you at an enormous disadvantage. Those who know how to use the dominant discourse effectively and to their own advantage will be more powerful.
People use their knowledge of the power, inherent in the mastery of discourses, to manipulate others. Many texts show evidence of this. In fact, some texts actively criticise those, who less than ethically utilise their mastery of discourses to achieve their own ends. The media actively utilise their understanding of the dominant discourse to support many agendas. Novelists over the years have shown the ill-effects on individuals who might suffer through not mastering the dominant discourse. Those who know how to use a variety of discourses will become more powerful. Those who have difficulty with discourses will end up being alienated.
Alienation is the result of being unable to use other discourses or refusing to engage in the dominant discourse. One can gain power by preventing alienation of oneself and sublimating others via the use of alienation. Alienation is represented in all texts and films to effectively manipulate the minds of readers, so that they can compare their experiences with the characters in the narrative. This is clearly represented in the novel, ?1984? by George Orwell, when the character Winston, challenges the dominant discourse. Another example can be seen in ?Frankenstein?, by Mary Shelly where Victor is alienated because he disobeyed ?the rules? of the dominant discourse.
The media however, uses a variety of discourses to manipulate the reader?s mind. Foregrounding certain topics and purposely leaving out certain information (silencing) are also techniques to use ?the power of language? to their own advantage. These techniques are used to convince the pubic, of a particular issue. To many people, this is like ?brainwashing? society.
Novelists express the abuse of power, such as ?brain washing?. ?Brave New World? by Aldous Huxley, gives an excellent example of this. He wrote: ?To make them love it, is the task assigned in present day totalitarian states, to ministries of propaganda…?. thus, through hynopeadic teaching (brain washing), essential attendance to community gatherings and the use of drugs to control emotion. This was the dominant discourse of the characters. From this, it can be noticed that the ones in power can abuse their authority and lead to corruption.
A great representation of abuse of authority and corruption, is seen in ?1984? and ?Brave New World?. These novels describes the quest for total power. Thus, an excellent theatrical representation of Lord Acton?s famous statement, ?All power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.? (The World Book Encyclopedia, Vol 1, pg 27 ). George Orwell wanted his readers to make comparisons with the ways in which language manipulated people in ?1984? to how language in real life manipulates.
In today?s society, discourses are regarded as the ways of talking, acting, believing, valuing and relating, that makes individuals into this or that person. Discourses have characteristic ways of behaving, so people can share and confirm their views of the world and develop a particular role and identity. In ?1984?, the most important thing is the destruction of language. By eliminating more and more words from society?s vocabulary, ?Big Brother? (the party in absolute control) eliminates the ability of people to write or conspire against them. However, they are also eliminating the possibility of conceiving original thought. The ultimate goal of ?the party? is to reduce language to only one word, thereby eliminating any thought at all. this is just one of the many way ?power corrupts? (unknown).
?The power of language? can be used to extremes. Knowing the variety of discourses can make a difference to your social status and your individuality. The power is all around us, in the newspapers, stories on television. Those who know how to use the dominant discourse effectively and to their own advantage will be more powerful. Everyone want to have power and ?fit in?, no one wants to be alienated but it is how we learn to ?fit in?. ?The power of language? is unquestionable and corrupts us all.
BIBLIOGRAPHYHuxley, Aldous (1932) Brave New World, Chatto and Windus Ltd, Great Britain.
Orwell, George (1948) Nineteen Eighty-four, penguin, London.
(1992) The World Book Encyclopedia, Vol 1, World Book Inc, Chicago.
Shelly, Mary (1963) Frankenstein (NA), (NA)