Abuse of Power in Heart of Darkness and in Frankenstein

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How is the abuse of power shown in two works that you have studied?

The works I have studied and will be exploring in this essay are Mary Shelly’s ‘Frankenstein’ and Joseph Conrad’s ‘Heart of Darkness’. In ‘Frankenstein’ the abuse of power is most clearly exhibited by the protagonist of the story Frankenstein himself, his abuse of power results in his isolation and could serve as a warning to people, telling them not to play with forces that they can not control. In ‘Heart of Darkness’, Conrad abuses his power as the author to distance himself from the novella and in a sense absolve himself from any racist criticism the book may induce. The abuse of power is also a key theme in the novella itself. Firstly there is a sense of hypocrisy in the novella where the abuse of power is concerned, Marlow seems to have a slight reluctance to abuse his power over the natives, however he abuses his power before he even gets to the Congo, when he attains the job unfairly through the position held by his aunt in the company. Secondly the idea that the white western men have a superior culture and feel the need to impose their civility on the outrageous and almost in-human savages inhabiting the Congo is the most obvious abuse of power implicated in the short story. Overall the abuse of power in both novels is shown to end badly for the party involved. Marlow sees the abuse of power leave people without their minds, and Shelly’s novel also demonstrates this to some degree, but highlights more clearly the way that the abuse of power can leave you isolated.

Conrad abuses his power as the author in his novella ‘Heart of Darkness’, by writing in the form of a framed narrative. This leaves him distanced from the story, and allows him to make rather outlandish comments throughout, as he can claim that the views expressed in the book are not his but Marlow’s. The framed narrative makes it difficult to hold Conrad responsible for the more controversial opinions expressed in the...
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