In Anthem, a collectivist dictatorship keeps its members subjugated by using force and constant indoctrination. The hero of Anthem, Prometheus, struggles with the ideals of the collectivist society because his values are not in accord with them. Ultimately, Prometheus is able to free himself from collectivism by understanding the falseness of its premise.
At the crudest level, the collectivist dictatorship is able to maintain power and control over its subjects by the use of force. Disobedient members can be sent to the Palace of Corrective Detention and lashed, as is the case with Prometheus, or, for extreme infringements, can be burned alive like the Transgressor of the Unspeakable Word. The wielding of such brutal force helps the dictatorship uphold its authority.
The dictatorship also manages to keep its subjects in line through brainwashing. As Prometheus writes, “Everything which comes from the many is good. Everything which comes from the one is evil. Thus have we been taught with our first breath.” Also, as children, the ruled are forced to recite, “By the grace of our brothers are we allowed our lives. We exist through, by and for our brothers,” meaning that the only moral justification they have for living is service. By imbuing each subject with the moral premise that the “many” is always good and the “one” is always bad, the dictatorship manages to virtually eliminate any thought of opposition. In opposing the dictatorship, one is opposing the will of all people with one’s singular will, and thus is evil. The moral creed that the dictatorship inculcates gives it a moral s…
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…; The metaphysical basis of collectivism is, “There are no men but only the great WE.” The moral basis is, “We exist through, by and for our brothers.” The implication is that things that exist have the right to exist, and things that do not exist have no right. Since only “we” exists and not individual men, individual men do not have the right for themselves. Prometheus comes to understand, however, through the word “I” that individuals do exist, and thus have a right to live for themselves, to take pleasure in things essentially self-centered and self-serving.
The collectivist dictatorship in Anthem has a strong moral grip on its subjects. The hero Prometheus is able to break that grip through his devotion to his own happiness and finally through his recognition of the existence of individuality.
Essay on the Importance of Language in The Tempest
The Importance of Language in The Tempest
In discussing Derrida’s view of Western literature, Geoffrey Hartman writes that “Western tradition has been marked . . . by a metaphysics of light, by the violence of light itself, from Apollonian cults to Cartesian philosophies. In the light of this emphatic light everything else appears obscure; especially the Hebraic development of aniconic writing and self-effacing commentary of textuality” (xix). This point is well illustrated by the nature of Prospero’s power in The Tempest for his control of natural and supernatural forces is achieved through book-learning the bringing to life of Logos. That which Prospero does not control completely is the vilified character of Caliban. The denigrated and unwilling servant seems to represent Prospero’s shadow, and in light of the above statement, perhaps Caliban represents the shadow of our light-infused Greco-Roman style of domination of the material world. The text tells us that when Prospero first arrives on the island Caliban willingly reveals its secrets to him. Only when Caliban threatens the chastity of Prospero’s daughter, Miranda, does the relationship turn into one of master and slave. Prospero thus draws the line between the shadow realm and purity. His action suggests that sexuality, too, must be kept in a role of servitude if one is to retain control of one’s kingdom. In affirming this schism, Prospero simply enforces the dualistic nature of the Western tradition. In heaping scorn upon Caliban, Prospero embodies the West’s extreme dualistic nature vis-a-vis its perceived schisms existent between light and dark, mortal and immortal, good and evil.
Caliban’s transgression is thus never effaced and brings the diametr…
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…are Commentaries. (1877):787-800. Rpt. Scott. 304-307.
Hartman, Geoffrey H. Saving the Text: Literature/Derrida/Philosophy. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1981.
More, Sir Thomas. “Utopia.” The Longman Anthology of British Literature. Vol 1. Ed. David Damrosch. New York: Addison-Wesley Educational Publishers Inc., 1999. 637-706.
Platt, Peter. “Shakespeare and Rhetorical Culture.” A Companion to Shakespeare. Ed. David Scott Kastan. Massachusetts: Blackwell Publishers Ltd., 1999. 277-296.
Sacks, David Harris. “Political Culture.” A Companion to Shakespeare. Ed. David Scott Kastan. Massachusetts: Blackwell Publishers Ltd., 1999. 100-116.
Shakespeare, William. The Tempest. Ed. Rex Gibson. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1995.
Snider, Denton J. “A review of The Tempest.” The Shakespearian Drama a Commentary: The Comedies. (1890). Rpt. Scott. 320-324.