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Power In Death And The Maiden English Literature Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 833 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Power is defined as a possession of control, authority or influence over others. Power inequities have been in existence throughout the history of humanity and the ways of manifestation evolved from extreme to subtle, oppression. This idea can be seen in the plays Lysistrata by Aristophanes and in Death and the Maiden by Ariel Dorfman. In Lysistrata, the protagonist, Lysistrata, doesn’t want to see Greece tear itself apart while in Death and the Maiden the protagonist Paulina wishes to take revenge on someone she believes tortured her many years ago. Both Lysistrata and Paulina find themselves feeling powerless within a society which sees them as something to be conquered. Through the use of sexuality, both women are able to gain power and use it to assert themselves within society however, whether or not they reach their goals is dependent on what issue characters wish to solve, an issue with society or an issue with themselves.

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Both Paulina and Lysistrata believed that they required power to reach their goals, goals that could never be achieved in their former position in society, a second class citizen. In Death and the Maiden, Paulina wishes to punish who she thinks tortured her, Roberto. She required power in order to manipulate her husband, Gerardo, to play along with her “game” and she believed that the power to instil fear in Roberto would bring her strength to punish him and bring closure to her life. However, Roberto keeps trying to tell her that killing him will never bring the closure that she wanted. The implications from murdering him will further manifest the problem and the emotions that come with it. Paulina responds be saying “And why does it always have to be people like me who have to sacrifice, why we are always the ones who have to make concessions when something has to be conceded […]” (Dorfman 66). She keeps asking the question “why?” and this shows the audience all the emotions that have been bottled up over the years are tearing her apart. This is a major turning point for her as a character, whether she will forgive Roberto, kill him, or let him go. Either way she understands that with or without her power, no matter what she tries to do she will never have a piece of mind. On the other hand Lysistrata is able to achieve her goal through the use of her gained power. After the negotiations she declared “Well gentlemen, so it’s all happily settled. […] And let us for the future all endeavour Not to repeat our errors, never ever!” (Aristophanes 191). Lysistrata was successful at reaching her goals using the power she had gained because she had the support of all the women in Greece while Paulina only had herself. Lysistrata’s declaration is anticlimactic and unlike Paulina’s dialogue. Although Lysistrata reached her goal of making peace, she merely falls back into her role of being a woman however throughout the play Lysistrata used a more serious tone than the other women and is portrayed as being smarter than the other women. Unlike in Death and the Maiden, Paulina is portrayed as weak, confused, and broken up emotionally. Paulina’s fearlessness seen in the play stemmed from anger. This merely created an illusion of a strong and powerful person. Whether the women reached their goals or not, the plays shows the reader that power to control and manipulate others will never be able to solve conflict and pain from within oneself however power to help a large group in society will definitely have an everlasting impact.

Both Paulina and Lysistrata are able to gain power and use it to assert themselves within society however, Paulina was not able to reach her goal because power cannot erase memories and emotions that forever changed us. However, Lysistrata wants to help society as a whole and this allows her to gain support from the women of Greece. Paulina was just a shattered person trying the end a chapter of her life that she will never forget while Lysistrata wanted to end a war that had no end in sight and taken countless lives. By understanding the goals of the characters as well as their mindset, we can make proper judgement on our own society. If a human is given the proper environment to develop and thrive, people wouldn`t be seeking revenge on those that did them wrong. Also people wouldn`t have to fight for their opinions to make an influence in society because society would accept them. Humans experience growth in different ways at particular points in our lives but the main underlining similarities allows the species to help one another progress through the hardships faced in life. Otherwise every person would just rot in the shadows of what they could have been and what they wished they had done. By understanding the power plays with the protagonists, it can be applied to enhance the developments of our own characters and hopefully society.

Word Count: 1320


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