Power and Powerlessness of Individuals in Brighton Rock and The Third Man by Graham Greene
- Length: 1422 words (4.1 double-spaced pages)
- Rating: Excellent
The "Third Man" and "Brighton Rock" are texts that share similar characteristics in the sense that there are three central characters in both storylines. The characters can also be matched between the texts. Pinkie Brown is similar to Harry Lime, Holly Martins is similar to Ida Arnold and Rose is similar to Anna. The relationships between the characters are also similar. The characters of Pinkie/Harry are the villains' in their separate stories. The characters of Ida/Holly play the detective' roles and Rose/Anna complete the triangle as the love interests for the villains. Each individual is represented as both powerful and powerless during his or her story.
Brighton Rock, as a book, has literary techniques to portray power or powerlessness, rather than visual techniques such as those in The Third Man. Graham Greene emphasizes powerlessness by building up weaknesses for the characters throughout the book. We learn that Pinkie dislikes sex and alcohol at an early stage of the novel, and when situations arise surrounding either of these themes, we know that Pinkie is powerless because of his lack of experience with sex or alcohol. In this way, Pinkie's powerlessness is represented.
Despite Pinkie's powerlessness in sex or alcohol related situations, he is relatively intimidating in all other circumstances. His strength is fear; he scares people into doing what he wants. His violent disposition makes him a powerful figure. He becomes the leader of his gang when Kite is murdered, he orders around men that are three times his age and is generally feared and respected. Power is represented when Pinkie threatens people; his history of murderous nature ensures that he gets his way.
Ida is powerful in the sense that she doesn't give up on her mission to find out what happened to Hale. She uses her sex appeal to gain as much information as she can. She has some power over Pinkie because she knows that he is involved with Hale's murder, and therefore poses a threat to him. Power is therefore represented through knowledge and sex appeal rather than force.
Ida's powerlessness is all about her inability to convince Rose that Pinkie does not love her. She also has no influence on Pinkie's choices or decisions. Her powerlessness is represented by her lack of force; the Police do not help her, she is virtually alone in her quest for justice.
Rose is only powerful in one way; she knows what Pinkie has done and she can use her knowledge to persuade Pinkie to love her. Although she appears to be unintelligent, she convinces Pinkie that he needs to marry her. She further stamps her authority when Pinkie's violence doesn't intimidate her. She simply states that he can keep hurting her if he wants to. This represents her power over Pinkie because she wont let herself be walked over with threats and pain.
Rose is powerless when Pinkie does intimidate her; she crumbles under his pressure and obeys everything he says. She doesn't stand up for herself enough and is on the brink of committing suicide for Pinkie before she is rescued. Her powerlessness is represented through her shy nature.
The Third Man's Holly Martins is powerless on several occasions. He is new to the city of Vienna, he came by request of Harry Lime and he is thrown into confusion when he is notified of Harry's death. Vienna is not welcoming for Holly; his only acquaintance is dead, he is immediately in hot water with the police and he is lied to by Popescu. The tilted camera angles are used when Holly is being lied to and emphasize the fact that all is not well in Vienna. When the camera angle is severely tilted, the lies are more deceitful, and when the lies are less deceitful the camera angle is adjusted accordingly. The severity of the tilt matches the severity of the lies. Physical barriers such as closed windows and bed frames between Holly and other characters represent mental barriers that keep Holly from the truth about Harry. When Holly is accused of murdering the porter, the accusations are in a dialect he does not understand and so he is forced to run away, powerless to do anything else. Holly's powerlessness is further highlighted when Major Calloway manipulates Holly by showing him the innocent children at the hospital. This causes Holly to change his mind about Harry and he agrees to work together with the police to catch Harry. These techniques portray Holly as powerless and vulnerable; he is in an unfamiliar city that is shrouded in lies.
Holly's power comes from his loyalty to Harry; he is intent on finding out the truth about his death. His motivation keeps him going, even when everyone is against him. He is lied to, accused of murdering the porter, badgered by the police and he still fights to decipher the truth. This eventually pays off, he finds Harry and they reunite briefly, before Major Calloway forces Holly to sell Harry out. Holly ends up finishing Harry off in the sewers; Holly is able bodied and armed, and Harry is wounded and vulnerable. He gives Holly a nod and Holly shoots him. Holly was empowered by the police because they helped him catch Harry and stop the penicillin racket. Holly is represented as a powerful individual at the end of the story; he lived through the saga in Vienna and brought his friend Harry Lime to justice.
Anna is represented as a powerful figure over Holly, because he is in love with her, yet she is still in love with Harry. This keeps Holly busy for a period of time because he wants Anna to fall in love with him. Anna's power over Holly is represented through her charm and beauty.
Anna's powerlessness is due to her illegal papers that Harry forged for her. She cannot stay in Vienna legally and is eventually caught. She is represented as powerless through her lack of authentic papers.
Harry Lime is very powerful because of his followers. He himself must pretend to be non-existent. However, his gang of thugs carry on the business of selling watered down penicillin. Popescu, Kurtz and Dr. Winkel all shield Holly from the truth and keep things running smoothly. Even though Harry cannot be seen in Vienna he is still powerful because he is making money from the penicillin racket, people are dying because of him and he is evading capture from the police. A clever technique is when Harry is riding the Ferris wheel with Holly; He is high above Vienna and he questions Holly "Would you really feel any pity if one of those dots stopped moving forever?". This shows his power because he refers to people as mere dots and how he doesn't care if they live or die. Another scene is where he is on top of the building looking down at the Café Marc Aurel; He is standing tall, above Vienna, and the light shining on the brim of his hat represents a halo. He is still a powerful figure in Vienna. He is represented as a powerful individual because he succeeds at living an escapee's life, while still making a profit from his black market drugs.
Harry is represented as powerless on one occasion; in the sewer. At the end of the film, Harry is crawling up stairs that lead to an unguarded manhole and safety. He has not got the strength to lift the cover and is consequently shot by Holly. This is the only scene where he is shown as powerless, however, because he cannot be seen in Vienna, he is almost powerless all along.
The characters in the two texts are represented as powerful and powerless at different stages during their respective stories. There is no character that is entirely powerful or entirely powerless. The ways in which they are represented are through visual techniques in the film, and literary techniques in the novel.