Literary Works United Against Abusive Leadership
Works of literature have always been used to identify the nature of the societies within which the authors lived. This is especially considering that authors and playwrights usually made works of literature in an effort to depict the societies within which they lived, come up with ideal societies, or even expose and criticize the ills of their own societies. This is especially with regard to the governments of the day, or the individuals who were in power, who mostly ended up corrupt, power-hungry and ruthless individuals, who would stop at nothing to save their own skins eve if the entire society was at stake. Of course, there are variations as to the techniques that the authors of the literary works used in depicting the ills of their particular societies. This, however, is the case for the works of Marcia Marquez, Ionesco and Mahfouz, namely “Death Constant Beyond Love”, “The Lesson” and “Arabian Night and Days” respectively. These works offer some of the most vivid criticism of the corrupt, tyrannical and abusive leadership prevalent in the societies within which the authors and playwrights lived. Placed in the order of the most effective and forceful works in depicting tyranny and abusive leadership, “The Lesson” would rank highest, followed by “Arabian night and Days” and lastly, “Death Constant Beyond Love”.
“The Lesson” is a play set in the office of a 50-year old professor, who is expecting a doctorate student aged 18. Once the student arrives, the professor’s maid aged around 40 receives her, but is worried about the health of the professor. She is also worried about the manner in which the professor drives the lesson. Initially, the professor is extremely meek to the pupil and takes his time to pay attention to the musings of the patient. In fact, the professor tells the pupil that he is her servant not the other way round, in which case he is at her disposal (Ionesco 50). On the same note, he appear pretty calm and patient with the student when she makes mistakes in mathematics, taking his time to explain concepts without apparent irritation as one would expect. However, this changes eventually, with the professor becoming ruthless and not caring about the health of the pupil. In fact, when the pupil initially insinuates that she has a toothache, the professor states that they cannot stop the lessons due to something that minute (Ionesco 63). Eventually, his responses turn ruthless with the professor barking at the student and becoming openly rude when she mentions the toothache. Eventually, the student has varied parts of her body aching and cannot grasp the concepts, to which the professor stabs her citing her ignorance (Ionesco 75). This being the climax underlines the tyranny that leaders visit upon their hapless citizenry, year in year out. While they initially may seem to care for the welfare of the citizenry, they later on turn ruthless and turn the state machinery on them. It is worth noting that the girl depicted in that play was the fortieth victim for the day. In fact, immediately after her corpse has been cleared, another student appears and is received in the same manner as the initial girl, in which case the reader can assume that the same cycle will be repeated.
Similar tyranny is seen in “Arabian night and Days”, where the Sultan is used to killing virgins after deflowering them. He, however, spares the virgin this time round and even goes ahead to marry her, something that becomes a hot topic in the town. The story then switches its focus to a noble merchant, who is tricked by a genie into killing the governor. The visit by the genie turns the merchant Saanan from a religious and upright individual to an entirely dark individual. He rapes a young girl and kills her, before milling the governor in cold blood in an effort to save the genie. However, the promise by the genie to save him from the fix had a double meaning, as Sanaan would become the hero who eliminated the corrupt governor but end up lowering his chances of leaving the governor’s home alive (Mahfouz 537). While there may be varied interpretations to the works, the Sultan may be a representation of the foreign influence that seeped into the author’s country (Egypt). Foreigners entered the country and destroyed everything that was beautiful and pure represented by the virgins, leaving in their wake a trail of blood and destruction. The corrupt governor may be the local officials influenced and corrupted by the foreigners’ ways, in which case they only thought about their own gains and not the due process. This is seen especially when Sanaan rapes and kills a young girl. Initially, the governor does not call for action. He only does that after public outcry. Even then, he does not want proper investigations done, rather he wants all beggars and vagabonds tortured to admitting they committed the act (Mahfouz 533). Sanaan, on the other hand, comes as a representation of the sane individuals in the society, who use deceit to underline their goodness but are driven to evil as a way of strengthening themselves against foreign influence.
In the case of “Death Constant Beyond Love”, Garcia Marquez criticizes the ways of the corrupt Senator Onesimo Sanchez. Sanchex has six months and 11 days to live. While making a trip in the town dishing goodies, he comes across Nelson Farina, an escaped convict who has been seeking the senator’s help in obtaining a false identity card unsuccessfully. However, Sanchez promises to do this after seeing Farina’s beautiful daughter, Laura, with whom he wishes to have intercourse (Marquez 3). His advances, however, turn fruitless as Laura has a padlocked chastity belt whose key is in Nelson’s possession. However, it is apparent that Sanchez would not have offered to help Nelson, were it not for Nelson’s daughter who he wanted. On the same note, Sanchez has been corrupted and desensitized to the plight of the poor to such an extent that he was disdainful for individuals struggling to shake his hand and had no remorse for the barefooted Indians (Marquez 1).
In conclusion, literary works are usually aimed at depicting the ills of the society. Such is the case for the three works, which, in varying degrees, underline the corruption and tyranny and abuse that leaders visit upon the citizenry. In “The Lesson” the professor is initially calm and helpful to the student but eventually becomes rude and does not care about her illness. Ultimately, he ends up killing her, making her his fortieth victim. This is the same way leaders are prior to and immediately after elections, after which they become ruthless and beastly. In “Arabian night and Days”, Mahfouz brings out the tyranny visited upon the citizenry by foreigners (The Sultan), who destroys the purity and beauty of the land, as well as the local government officials (the governor) who abuse power and takes actions that only suit them not for the welfare of the people. In “Death Constant Beyond Love”, the Senator Sanchez only agrees to assist Nelson obtain a FALSE id after seeing his daughter not because it was right. In addition, he has been desensitized to the plight of the locals and is disdainful of the “barefooted Indians” craving to shake his hand.
Marquez, Gabriel Garcia. Death Constant Beyond Love. New York City: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1970. Print
Eugkne, Ionesco. “The Lesson.” In Four Plays, translated by. Donald M. Allen. New York: Grove, 1958, pp. 43-78. Print
Mahfouz, Naguib. Arabian Nights and Days. Cairo: The American University in Cairo Press, 1995. Print