Comparing the Concepts of Authority and Individualism in Literature

Comparing the Concepts of Authority and Individualism in Literature

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Comparing the Concepts of Authority and Individualism in Literature

Authority is defined as a person or group of people who control the society and make major decisions affecting the society. Individual is a person who has no particular influence on the society and neither do his decisions. The term Authority may be applied to any type of people who hold some sort of influence or power on the society such as The Police; Courts from local courts to supreme courts and of course the ruling party of the government. The individual may be a single civilian.

This essay will compare and contrast the way the following text types present the concept of Authority and the individual: Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury; Billy Budd, by Hermann Melville; Shawshank Redemption, by Hollywood Studios; And the poem Naming of parts by Henry Reed. It will discuss how symbolism, language of features, themes, and text form contributes to the way they present the idea of Authority and Individual. It will also discuss the state of Authority in that particular text type (for example is the Authority right or wrong in it’s believes and practices),

Fahrenheit 451 is a book written by Ray Bradbury, set in a futuristic society, about a fireman named Guy Montag whose job is to go and burn the books, which are forbidden, being the source of all discord and unhappiness.
The two main themes in this novel are Social change and the banning of books to stop inequality and Individualism.
One of the changes the Authority is responsible in this novel is Social change. Their main purpose is to not let the individual think alone. The Authority does this by giving individuals no time to think, as captain Beatty puts it:
‘Give them zippers instead of buttons’ (pg 63)
Clarisee also says in School, children are given fun activities, are blasted with useless facts and information, and given no time to ask questions.
In the world of Fahrenheit 451 the books are banned. Figures of Authority believe that books create inequality by creating an educated class:
‘We must all be alike. Not everyone born free and equal, as the constitution says, but everyone made equal. Each man the image of every other…’(pg 65)
Books present readers with conflicting views, thus causing confusion:
‘We stand against the small tide of those who want to make everyone unhappy with conflicting theory and thought’ (pg 69)

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Lastly but most importantly books allow people to think which leads to individualism. This simply cannot be allowed if any control over people is to be maintained.
Ray Bradbury uses standard narrative features in his novel, one of the strong features used was playing with time that is changing the time to get his message across (for example going from present to past to support what he is saying)

Billy Budd is a play of a book written by Hermann Melville; it is set in the 1798 in the wartimes on a British navy ship Indomitable. The play is about tragedy of a fine young handsome sailor named Willam Budd persecuted by a malevolent master at arms on a British warship. It is about how master at Arms falsely accuses Billy in front of captain, Billy is unable to defend himself verbally because of speech impediment so he defends himself physically. Unfortunately the blow kills master at Arms. The Captain is then obliged to sentence him to death because of strict naval discipline.
Symbolism is used in this play. Billy Budd is symbolised for innocence; Claggart represents evil; and Captain Vere symbolises honorable Authority. Claggart also uses symbolism:
‘The sea’s deceitful, boy: calm above, and underneath, a world of gliding monsters preying on their fellows. Murderers, all of them. Only the sharpest teeth survive.’( pg 19)
Claggart uses metaphors like the one above to scare or warn Billy away from himself but unfortunately Billy is unable to interpret the metaphors.
Captain Vere is the authority of the ship, however he has superior officers:
‘By authority of his Gracious Majesty George Rex and Alan Napier, Viscount Kelsey, First Sea Lord’(pg 69)
The above quote shows the supreme authority figures. Vere is a man who believes in rules, regulations, and procedure. In his opinion, everything must be done according to instruction. Captain Vere always strives to do that which he believes to be right according to the laws set by his superior officers. The action of hanging Billy can not be blamed on Captain Vere but be blamed on the figures that made the Admiral Navy laws. Captain Vere not evil instead:
‘Then authority’s an evil’ (Seymour)(pg 49)
The above quote shows that Admiral laws are wrong and evil.
The language used is very appropriate for it’s time meaning that this is the type of English you would expect to bespoken by 18th century illiterate sailors some of the examples are; He ain’t here; He don’t confide…; and You was impressed

Shawshank Redemption is a movie about an innocent man, Andy Danfresne who is charged for murdering his wife and her lover. Based on the novel by Stephen King , Shawshank Redemption is set in 1947 and filmed in 1994.
The symbols in the film have been used to convey messages. The flag at the top of the prison ironically represents freedom. The clothes of guards (black) represent evil. The actions of the guard such as when they enter the prison in formation suggests they are conveying that they are in complete control. The stance of guards, standing upright, shoulders broad, and wide represents arrogance. The body language of the prisoners, body bent, shoulders in haunch represents defeat.
The language used in this film is all slang and full of curses. However it is appropriate because you would expect this kind of language in a prison and in 1947.
The main authorities in this movie are the guards. The major authortian figures are Warden and Mr Hadley, the Captain of guard. It is very obvious that the authorities in this particular film are wrong in their beliefs and are ethically corrupt. The way they threat the prisoners is no way to threat human beings. A classic example is when a fat prisoner starts crying in the prison at night on his first night, then Mr Hadley bashes him so badly that he ends up dying. This act is of pure evil and brutality. Through Andy we find out that for years Warden is making money illegally.

Naming of parts is a poem by Henry Reed about a new enlisted soldier sitting in the lecture of how to operate a gun. The soldier just repeats what the lecturer says but in a way evokes nature rather then weapons.
The language of features include; Similes examples would include Japonica/Glistens like coral(Stanza 1)and like the bolt,/and the breech, and the cooking-piece’(Stanza 5); Metaphors example of metaphors would include ‘the branches/hold in the gardens their silent, eloquent gestures,’(Stanza2) and ‘The blossoms are fragile and motionless…’(Stanza 3); Alliteration examples would include: ‘…you have not got’(Stanza 2) and ‘…fumbling the flowers’(stanza4); and Assonance an example would be : ‘Today we have naming…’(Stanza 1)
The poet’s basic message is that people should not be forced to enlist in the army.

To conclude all of the text form types have put forward the idea that Authority is evil and wrong in many ways. In Fahrenheit 451 it is wrong by banning the books. In the play Billy Budd the laws of authority are evil and wrong they are made so that innocent people like Billy could be killed. The Authority in Shawshank redemption is corrupt ethically and evil in the way they threat their prisoners and Henry reed in his poem Naming of parts also hints that authority should not force individuals to enlist in the army. We are lucky that in real life Authority in most cases is just and right in it’s believes and practices.
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