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Corruption of Power in Shakespeare

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Ethan Gasta

on 15 June 2013

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Transcript of Corruption of Power in Shakespeare

Corruption of Power
Modern Day History vs. Shakespeare Plays
Shakespeare Plays

Claudius is a great example of corruption of power. In the play Hamlet, Claudius, King Hamlets brother, was jealous, so he killed the king and married his wife. He then used the power that he got from stealing the throne, to eliminate any problem that came before him. One of these problems is Prince Hamlet, who when learning of the murder, swears to revenge his father.
Modern Day History
In this play, Hamlet is the main character who is effected. With Claudius, Hamlet's uncle, in power, he really torments Hamlet in many different ways. He uses all of his power to make Hamlet's life miserable. Claudius sends many people including his right hand man, Polonius, and Hamlet's friends; Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to spy on Hamlet. Claudius claims that it is for Hamlets own good, and that he is only spying on him because Hamlet is acting crazy and unnatural. The Queen, who is truly looking out for Hamlets well being, however Hamlet is so consumed with anger and furry, that he is determended to make Claudius to pay. Claudius uses his power to get what he wants. When he learns that Hamlet is out to kill him, he plans for Hamlets death. King Claudius then convinces Laertes that Hamlet must die for accidentally killing Polonius. Claudius plans out a fencing match for the two to duel until death, while also poisoning Laertes's sword and the victory drink to insure Hamlets death. In the end, Hamlet kills Laertes and Claudius. However because of Laertes's poisoned sword, Hamlet dies too. Claudius abused his power so much that all of the main characters dies.
Effects on the Characters
Midsummer Night's Dream:
“The prince of Cumberland! That is a step I must either fall down from or else leap over, for it lies in my way.”
In Midsummer Night's Dream, Egeus uses his power as father of Hermia to stop her from marrying Lysander. He really only thinks about himself and his feelings when giving these orders. Since back during the time period of Shakespeare, women were the property of men, Egeus had the power to determine the future of Hermia. He threatened her that if she went against his word that he would see her killed. This is an extremely bold move. Egeus should be looking out for her interests since he is her father. These events taken place in the play tell me that the relationship between Hermia and her father are not the best. In the end of the play, Theseus, the one who enforces the rules and power in the play, decides against Egeus and lets the two lovers get married.
Effects on Public
The stories and events from the plays in Shakespeare and our history are quite similar is some ways. In the plays Macbeth and Hamlet, the two corrupt kings used their power to kill everyone in their paths, including friends. Adolf Hitler started a World War and killed some of his best generals including a man named Erwin Rommel. Shakespeare also has written plays about how Rulers corrupt their power just for their own selfish needs. Egeus wanted to chose who his daughter married so he threatened her to make her obey. Kim Jong Un has ruled in a way to make himself look powerful and an amazing man. He has followed his selfish wants, even if that meant threatening other countries. One theme that really sticks out and is really repetative in all of these exampels is; that corrupt power never wins. All of the corrupt leaders in Shakespeare plays and in our own history, have fallen. This really shows that corrupt power does not last, and good will always overcome.
A Midsummer Night's Dream:
In this play, there are two people who have found true love. Hermia and Lysander have fallen in love. However, Hermia's father Egeus refuses that Hermia Marry Lysander because he wants her to marry a man named Demetrius. Egeus uses his power as Hermia's father to refuse her to be married to Lysander.
In this story, Macbeth the main character was told by three witches that he would one day become King of Scotland. This goes to his head, and does everything in his power to become King. He starts to go insane and eventually abuses his power so much that he loses all of his friends and allies. His wife plays a huge role in the play as well. She is really the one to push Macbeth to become a cut throat killer.
Macbeth is a very interesting man who really cant keep his emotions strait. After first hearing from the witches that one day he will be king, he is extremely motivated to kill Duncan. However, once he gets to the chance, he starts to chicken out! His wife, was really the one who had to shove him into doing it. When Lady Macbeth got first word that there was a chance she could be king of Scottland, she took it. Once a person gets a small taste of power, they crave more and more of it. Once Macbeth killed Duncan and became king, he acted very similarly to Claudius from Hamlet. He destroyed every little small threat that stood in his path. Banquo, an old friend and military partner, was assassinated by order of King Macbeth becuase of what the witches had said. They claimed that Banquo's children would one day become King. Macbeth slowly started to go insane. He would see ghosts of the men he killed and would have panic attacks. He eventually lost all of his friends because the use of corrupted power eventually corrupted his head. Malcom, son of Duncan, eventually came with an army and took out Macbeth and his rule.
There have been many occurrences of corruption of power in our history. Adolf Hitler was a man who came to power in the 1920s and 30s. He corrupted his power and used it to do many evil things. He believed that the Aryan race was the dominate race of them all. He also believed that the jewish religion was the lowest and most disgraceful religion. With these twisted opinions and his power, he was able to kill millions of people. He also used his power in a corrupt way by burning thousands of books in all different countries. His supporters helped him erase a lot of history. He did not want the his supporters and the world find out that he had a jewish ancestor. Hitler used this power, and corrupted it to gain things that he wanted, for his own personal good.
Kim Jong Un is another leader who has corrupted his power. You can really tell with Kim Jong Un that he enjoys having power. He launches and test nuclear missiles like they were going out of style. He really is more worried about how other counties look at him, then the actually survival and well being of his own country. He wants to be looked upon as a strong and powerful leader that is not to be trifled with. So he launches missiles and threatens other countries to gain more support and to look good. One third of North Korea's population dont know when or where their next meal is coming from. Kim Jong Un has many national problems that he needs to deal with however he ignores them. He is all bark and no bite because when he is threatened or pushed back, he turns into a coward.
The effects that these leaders have on the public are different. It really all depends on where you are looking at them. To have power you must have supporters, so all of these leaders had followers. Everyone who fought on the side of the Axis during World War II believed in their cause and agreed with Hitlers views. Hitler was idolized and praised by them. He was a god in their eyes. On the other hand the jewish families that would being torn apart and murdered believed he was the devil. Hitler, for some people, was doing the world a favor by cleasing the Earth and eliminating the diseased humans. He also murdered millions of people for being different.
Kim Jong Un has supporters as well. He praises his army. He pays most of his attention to his army and the people who make it up. So in their eyes, Kim Jong Un is a great guy who really respects the risk they are putting their lives into. However to most other people in his nation and the rest of the world, he is a terrible leader. He has not helped any of the domestic or economic problems in his country and has ignored the pleas for help. He looks out for himself and what he wants.
The corruption of power is everywhere. It expands its reach from Kings, to tyrants and dictators. Although it may help some people and hurt others, it never lasts.
The End
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