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Abuse Of Power in Three Pieces of Literature Essay


Edmund Burke once said, The greater the power, the more dangerous the abuse. Authority is used to guide society, provide order and create a sense of security. The novel Anthem by Ayn Rand, the award winning film The Changeling, and the play One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest by Dan Wesserman all exhibit different circumstances involving abuse of power. Though it comes in different forms, the outcome is consistently a miserable experience for certain individuals in each case.

Throughout the novel Anthem, by Ayn Rand explores the thought of a government created dystopia. With a complete absence of individual freedoms and expressions, the government has dictated what you will do with your life and who you will become. People who live in this community are deprived of the notion of me, myself, I, and left only with us, we, and ours. A young man, Equality 7-2521 fights in his own mind against what society tells him is right and wrong. He was told from a very young age his thoughts and feelings, strengths and weakness do not matter in the eyes of the Council of Vocations. Dare not choose in your minds the work you would like to do when you leave the Home of the Students. You shall do that which the Council of Vocations shall prescribe for you. For the Council of Vocations knows in its great wisdom where you are needed by your brother men, better than you can know it in your unworthy little minds. And if you are not needed by your brother men, there is no reason for you to burden the earth with your bodies (p 22). The Council of Vocations believes any opinion but their own is insignificant and not to be bothered with. They control everything making life seem as miserable as a prison, as if they were being punished. Without authority, who would protect our rights and freedoms? Manage conflicts peacefully and fairly? This government has gone overboard with protection and instead of assuring the residences of their rights, they took them away. Instead of solving conflicts they ensured there would be none all together, restricting individuals to who they can and cannot speak to.

In addition, in the film The Changeling, a woman who is reunited with her missing son soon realizes that he is an impostor. She confronts the authorities within the city, who accuse her of being an unfit mother and brand her as delusional. Following this, she is taken to a mental facility where she is surrounded by women who have been wrongly placed in the hospital, also for improper reasons decided by the police. The police had no warrant or concrete reason to incarcerate this innocent woman, as unveiled by a defence attorney. During the trial against the LAPD he said: Every home in this state is in grave danger when a Police Captain can take a woman into his office and, five minutes later, have her thrown into the psychopathic ward on his own authority (p 112). The Los Angeles Police Department tend to demonstrate their abuse of power when they take extreme, and illegal, measures to cover up the errors they have made. While in the mental facility the woman becomes aware of more misdemeanours performed by the LAPD, such as detaining a prostitute who was abused by an officer. The Police Department should not have the jurisdiction or ability to confine citizens who have not committed legitimate crimes.

Lastly, in the play of One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest by Dan Wesserman, the theme abuse of power is shown in abundance when the hospital staff mistreats their patients. They do this by using an exceptional amount of medication to keep the patients sluggish and controllable, as well as using a forceful hand when stepping out of line, the aides feel no remorse for the mentally ill. Warren (He raises and brandishes it at Chief Bromden, making a buzzing sound and chief Bromden recoils and plops into a rocking chair, huddling in fright.) (p 12) This kind of abuse is inhumane especially towards someone who suffers from a mental disability. Warren is abusing his power by physically injuring a patient, which is definitely outside of his rights at the hospital. His position as an aide does not entitle him to cause any physical harm to patients.

The aides of the hospital are not the only offenders with blood on their hands, but the head nurse of the ward is just as guilty. I think it might be appropriate to consider.. Surgical treatment? (p 67) A lobotomy procedure involves removing parts of the frontal cortex, which in the 1950s was acceptable when dealing with physiological illnesses or behavioral disorders; this in no way describes the current state of Randle McMurphy. Rowdy and disobedient, McMurphy definitely had an issue with following the regulations of the ward. However, this in no way constituted performing surgery on the individual, instead the lobotomy was suggested to benefit the hospital and staff, instead of the patient.

In conclusion, when authority and power are taken advantage of and abused the situation rarely benefits anyone, except the one abusing. This is evident in the three works Anthem by Ayn Rand, The Changeling, and One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest by Dan Wesserman. The power used in each circumstance does not guide society, provide order or protect anyone. Authority is usually given to specific people who are expected to use their power to give direction. When these people become selfish instead of selfless the group they are supposed to guide will likely take a turn for the worse. Positions of power are not to be taken lightly because often the fate of society will be at stake.

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