Notions of Power in Othello and 1984 Referring to Martin Luther King

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  • Topic: Nineteen Eighty-Four, Othello, Martin Luther
  • Pages : 5 (1960 words )
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  • Published : April 27, 2012
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Never was there ever a more ambiguous term than Power. To single out any one definition of power would limit the words potential, however, the ability to do or act; capability of doing or accomplishing something, is succinct in entertaining its polysemic nature. Power is subjective to its holder, wether it be the individual, the people or the position. Through the quote, “I am not interested in Power for Powers sake. I am interested in power that is moral, that is right, that is good”, Martin Luther King Jr presents an ethical, just view of power, contrary to those explored in the texts Othello and 1984. Shakespeare and Orwell use specific literary devices to successfully portray the Power of the Individual, Power of Position and Power of the People. In Othello we see Iago’s abuse and ambitions for power and throughout 1984, Winston's subjective view of the authoritarian government is singled out and vanquished, which shows the power of manipulation and totalitarian control, as well as the power of fear and hate.

To be knowledgable, influential and charismatic are key features contributing to Power of the Individual. Contrary to the ambitions of Martin Luther King Jr, Iago (Othello) expresses a motiveless malignity which directs his disguised exhibits of power. He may have slight ulterior motives- jealousy for Cassio’s lieutenancy and revenge at Othello’s betrayal- but his want of power is purely selfish; Power of the Individual. Iago weaves an intricate web of lies and influence, convincing Othello that Desdemona is an adulterer, yet separating himself from the accusations cunningly. “The Moor already changes with my poison. Dangerous conceits are in their natures poisons Which at the first are scarce found to distaste, But with a little act upon the blood Burn like the mines of sulfur.” He uses metaphor to compare how his accusations work like poison, slowly entering Othello's mind with his mind at ease, until provocation allows it to intoxicate him entirely. Iago also admits that he is aware his ideas are adverse and serve no good purpose. “O, beware, my lord, of jealousy; It is the green-ey'd monster, which doth mock the meat it feeds on.” Here irony is presented through the fact that the audience knows exactly the convoluted plot that Iago has set into motion with the seeds of doubt he puts on Othello. This is also a foreshadowing of Othello's tragic flaw; jealousy, which only became so because Iago coerced Othello unknowingly into becoming ‘The Green-ey’d monster’. The metaphor Iago uses also subtly presents more incentive for Othello to suspect Desdemona, as Iago implies that Othello is eating himself up with jealousy, giving reason for Othello to speculate why. The imagery presented within the quote mocks Othello, as Iago once denounced him as ‘The Beast’. He uses repetition with the epithet ‘The Moor’ to desensitize Othello from himself; whenever Iago mentions Othello in a soliloquy or aside, it is always as ‘The Moor’ or some other racist remark. Through the aforementioned quotes, it can be determined that Power of the Individual is clearly evident as Iago’s intentions of Power are to manipulate, coerce and corrupt Othello, a purely selfish act which he admits to himself as treacherous. Similarly, Power of the individual can be discerned in 1984 as O’Brien uses ‘the Brotherhood’ to manipulate Winston into thoughtcrime, only for Winston to discover it was all pseudo hope upon his capture. O’Briens power is in his job- to seek out possible thoughtcriminals, feign similar beliefs to lure them into thoughtcrime, then arrest and ‘cure’ them. His influence is evident as Winston declares himself and Julia as thoughtcriminals upon their second meeting- “We believe that there is some kind of conspiracy...working against the Party, and that you are involved in it. We want to join it and work for it. We are enemies of the Party. We disbelieve in the principles of INGSOC. We are thought-criminals. We are also adulterers....
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