Professor Eugene Ngezem
11 November 2014
Fugard’s The Island and the Torture of a People
Torture, when most people hear this word they think of human beings getting burned by scolding iron, fingers getting chopped off, or even people getting thrown into rooms to starve. Today torture is seen as cruel and inhumane. Anguish of mind and body was a horrible tyranny force upon a people. Torture is a rampant and systematic problem which continues as a phenomenon today. Before South Africa's transition to democracy there was torture. Deprived of their liberty, The Island is about two black political prisoners, John and Winston, who shared a cell in an isolated, alienated place on Robben Island. For decades many people have been jailed, including leaders such as Nelson Mandela who was jailed for 27 years at Robben Island. A place of punishment, they are struck with the contemporary relevance of constant torture. This play displays the effects of physical and mental pain use to control people. By embarking upon fantasying, their torture was temporary eliminated. Once torture becomes established as part of an internally acceptable norm, its use often becomes institutionalized and self-perpetuating.
The characters in this play suffer intense physical pain; inward and outward. The prisoner’s heads are shaved and they sleep on the floor. They endure “back-breaking and grotesquely futile labor.” (47) John and Winston exhausting and pointless act was mining the digging of sand. The warders (Hodoshe) specialize in intimating prisoners. They are handcuffed together and shackled at the ankles. Like animals, they are beaten. Winston received a blow to the eye and John springs his ankle. Later he learns that he have a bloody ear. Feeling outrage and out of control, Winston moans uncontrollable. Winston the active rebel, was sentenced to prison for life. He burned his passbook in front of a police...
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