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Conflicting Perspectives - Bias and Self Interest

By elliemcewen1994 Sep 28, 2012 1008 Words
Conflicting perspectives – bias and self interest
"More than anything, conflicting perspectives are the result of bias and self-interest"

When it comes to literature, conflicting perspectives are often woven artfully through the fabric of the text. The Shakespearean tragedy ‘Julius Caesar’ and Rob Sitch’s film ‘The Castle’ are two such pieces of literature that examine a range of conflicting perspectives. Humans are innately biased and self-interested, and it is our inability to separate a situation from bias and self-interest that often results in conflicting perspectives. Both composers explore this concept through the use of a variety of poetic, dramatic and cinematic devices.

In the funeral orations in Julius Caesar it is evident that the perspective of Brutus on Caesar and his death are driven by his bias. Brutus’ avid patriotism results in his bias against Caesar, and consequently he puts the good of Rome before his loyalty to Caesar. This bias is represented effectively through the use of antithesis – “Not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more”. Brutus believed that Caesar had a fatal flaw that put his beloved country in great jeopardy – ambition. This is represented through “As Caesar loved me, I weep for him…but as he was ambitious, I slew him” (Act3 Sc2). The use of parallelism unfortunately highlights this bias and exposes the flaws in Brutus’ reasoning as it contrasts three great attributes (love, valour, fortune) with only one supposed flaw. It is Brutus’ innate bias that leads him to believe that one flaw justifies the death of a great ruler.

In the funeral orations, Antony’s perspective of Caesar and his death are seated in direct conflict with Brutus’, as each tries to convince the mob that their own perspective is right. Although, unlike Brutus, Antony believes the murder to be cruel and unjust, he appeals to the crowd out of self-interest as he wishes to avenge Caesar’s death by inciting a civil war. In order to do so he manipulates the crowd to feel pity through the use of metaphor and aposiopesis “…Bear with me, My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar, And I must pause till it come back to me” (Act3 Sc2). The metaphor creates emotional and moral resonance and allows Antony represent his perspective and his grief, while the dramatic break manipulates the crowds’ emotions by forcing them to reflect on Antony’s. His ability to represent his own perspective and manipulate the crowds’ serves his own self-interest as it creates emotions within the mob that eventually incite a riot.

Cassius is yet another character whose self-interest creates conflicting perspective on Caesar. His perspective is in conflict with Brutus’ and Antony’s because he does not see greatness or honour in Caesar, nor does he love Rome as Brutus does. Cassius’ contempt for Caesar is driven by his jealousy that Caesar is more powerful than himself despite their equal birth – “I was born free as Caesar…we both have fed as well, and we can both endure the winter’s cold as well” (act1 sc2). His rhetoric here is shrouded in a contemptuous tone that highlights Cassius’ perspective that he is just as deserving of the crown as Caesar. The repetition of “we” reinforces the notion of equality and underscores the envious nature of Cassius’ perspective and the desire and innate self-interest that fuels it.

Throughout ‘The Castle’ Sitch has utilised a variety of cinematic devices to represent conflicting perspectives and the bias and self-interest at their heart. Darryl’s perspective that a home has more than a mere market value results from the bias he has towards his own home and the memories he built there – he places a lot of value on the ability of a home to bring a family together. His perspective and bias is represented effectively through voice over and metaphor at the beginning of the film, where Dale’s voice over states “Dad calls it his castle” and also at the closure of the film he again states “and dad still calls it his castle”. This metaphor suggests that like kingship, creating a home takes more than building a castle – it involves building something far less tangible: trust, pride, loyalty, love and memories. Close up shots of Darryl’s face while admiring his home serve to further reinforce his pride and bias towards the home he has built his family in. The natural and innate bias towards things that hold memories and sentimental value for the individual are the driving force behind Darryl’s belief that a home has more than a market value.

The airlines company’s perspective is in blatant conflict with Darryl’s as they try to convince the judge of their belief that a house is merely a dwelling. This perspective is the result of self-interest in wanting to extend the airport – they are driven by monetary incentives. The tools of mocking and rhetorical questions are used when airlines lawyer states “My client has been accused of breeching none other than the constitution of Australia. I mean good lord, what else are we guilty of? International war crimes? Hmm? (Laughs)”. The utilization of these devices is very effective as it clearly demonstrates the airlines contempt for and ignorance in the notion of sentimental value. The lawyer mocks the severity of the accusation, highlighting their strong disagreement with the “ridiculous” idea of a home having something other than a market value. The mocking tone makes it clear that the Barlow Group are not happy about someone getting in the way of what they want, elucidating the self-interest that is clearly the root of their perspective.

Humans are innately biased and self-interested. It is our inability to remove the situation from this bias and self-interest that often results in conflicting perspectives. This is evident in Julius Caesar and The Castle because both Shakespeare and Sitch utilise a variety of literary and cinematic devices to not only effectively represent conflicting perspectives within their texts, but also the bias and self-interest that drives them.

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