Analyzing The Struggle For Power In Four Novels
If you delve into the content of almost any novel, there is almost always some kind of struggle for power. It could be for rightful integration into society; power over an island; power over a country; or in some cases, even power over the minds of others. These not at all uncommon struggles for power are what keep us interested in the plot of a book. The ongoing battle between a character and his cause makes it impossible to put down a good book. For instance, the novel 1984 by George Orwell is about the struggle of a man and a woman to somehow find a way to get out of the constant barrage of cameras and mind control conducted by their government. Although the two of them eventually lost the battle, there was still a victor in the struggle for power: their government.
In the novel Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury, the main struggle for power deals with the government. This overly oppressive, almost Orwellian style bureaucracy, tries to make sure there is no interaction with books at all. They believe that books permeate their society and corrupt the minds of the people. Unannounced searches of property by "firemen" are not at all uncommon. At the slightest inkling of this futuristic contraband, these firemen will rummage through all of one's property, at times, destroying everything in their path.
On the opposite side of that spectrum, there is a struggle for power by the people as well. There is the woman who hid several thousand volumes of books in her house. She loves these books so much that when the firemen ransacked her house, she went down with the books without hesitation. In another example of this ongoing struggle for power, some people's lives were actually transformed into books. Their names changed to the title of the book, and they had to memorize every single written line of text. These people were so determined to fight for what they believed, that it would be impossible to say that some kind of struggle for power did not exist. They were struggling for the power of freedom. There is not only one kind of freedom you can have. Some peoples struggle for the power of freedom might be just to be allowed to exist at all.
When you read the Invisible Man, a novel by Ralph Ellison, in lies one of the most incredible and wonderful struggles for power that very possibly this world has ever seen. It involves the struggle of a black man trying to find a point of equilibrium for himself in a white man's world. Invisible Man was filled with a virtual plethora of differing and multi-cultural characters. For example, Mr. Norton, Brother Jack, Ringo from the paint factory, the Superintendent; all of these characters presented in the novel provide a more realistic sense of how the protagonist dealt with society in very different ways. Some of the different characters mentioned above had to be handled in different ways. Mr. Norton and the superintendent had to be treated always with respect. The protagonist's ability to recognize these different forms of society and how to deal with each one of them eventually helped him adapt in a more appropriate way to different places in society. The protagonist, however, was not the only person whose demeanor changed when confronted by someone else. Most all of the people of higher stature, like Mr. Norton, the dean of administrations at Tuskeegee, always seemed to walk around on egg shells when dealing with the protagonist. I believe that the protagonist sensed this. It was because of the struggles for power made by people like the protagonist that eventually turned the tide for black Americans in the 19th and 20th century. However, these struggles had been going on for several centuries before his own.
William Shakespeare is known as one of the greatest playwrights to have ever existed. In his recreation of the Roman reign of Julius Caesar, he portrayed one of the greatest struggles for power and self-fulfillment in the history of man. From the dramatic fall of the great Roman emperor Caesar to the fight for remaining control over Rome by Marc Antony vs. Brutus and Cassius, Julius Caesar depicts one of the largest struggles for power ever seen in literature.
The first major struggle for power in Julius Caesar comes from the conspirators. This group of "rebels" has the intention to free Rome and its people from the shackles of Julius Caesar. The only feasible way they can see to do this is to eliminate Caesar altogether. Their doing this demonstrates a need for a new kind power, one that suits their needs more accurately. Once the conspirators have finished their job and killed Caesar, they then have to deal with Caesar's "right hand man" if you will, Marc Antony. The battle with Antony brings about the next major struggle for power in the play: winning the war that Antony will put up against Brutus and his followers.
In the novel Lord Of The Flies by William Golding, there is a struggle for power that is more common today than any of the aforementioned conflicts. Like most power struggles of today, it deals with two individuals trying to gain control over land through two different personalities. Both of these personalities are children, so that factor makes the conflict all the more interesting.
On one side of the battlefield there is Ralph, and on the other side is Jack. Of the two, Ralph is the logical thinker. He wants to do tasks the convenient way for not only himself, but also for everyone else. Just opposite of him is Jack who has an almost totalitarian kind of outlook on how to get tasks done. Of the two of them, Jack is the one who seems most likely to abuse the power that he is given. Ralph simply wants to have fun, while at the same time maintaining order on the island. This back and forth battle between the two of them continues all the way through the book until all of the boys who are still alive are rescued.
Struggles like the ones I have mentioned are extremely common in almost all forms of literature. However, as I have pointed out, these kinds of struggles have been going on since the beginning of man. Today, the most common struggle for power seems to be deception and trickery, who can trick the most people and make the most money doing it. As I have demonstrated above, writers have portrayed various struggles for power over and over again in novels and stories for centuries. I suppose this is because the struggle for power, in whatever form, is a common dilemma to which everyone can relate.