The Compare and Contrast Essay on Power: Does Power Corrupt?

Many people have been given power throughout history. Two good examples of this are Macbeth from William Shakespeare's "Macbeth" and Alexander from Bob Gunn's "Does Power Corrupt?" In both of these cases, a man is given power and is soon corrupted by it. Power corrupts people despite how they were before they obtained it. 

Both Macbeth and Alexander did horrible actions immediately. Macbeth hired murders and told them "[w]ho wear our health but sickly in his life, which in death were perfect." (Shakespeare 92) when referring to his friend Banquo. Macbeth appeared as if he loved his friend, but in reality, his power corrupted him to the point where he would murder a man that close to him. Alexander ". . . spent his early career lying to others and withholding information . . ." (Gunn) from his coworkers. He was not given as much power as Macbeth, the king of Scotland, but he used the power he had for personal gain. This knowledge is dangerous for him because if his supervisors found out, he would be fired and have his power taken away. Without that power, he would have to find something else he could use corruptly for personal gain. 

Even though they were not corrupt at points in their lives, their power still corrupted them. When a man was discussing Macbeth, he described him as a ". . . tyrant, whose sole name blisters our tongues, was once thought honest." (Shakespeare 156) Macbeth was once a good man. He had friends, a wife, and was kind. After he received his power, the appearance of a good man faded away. His real nature surfaced as the power corrupted him. Alexander learned how corrupt he had become and tried to rectify his injustices. He tried to do the right thing, and succeeded for a while, but he kept ". . . slipping again and again into old, familiar habits." (Gunn) He did try to become a better man, but power always gets to people. Despite his efforts to be better, he still continued to lie and withhold valuable information from coworkers. 

The power that changed their behavior also had an impact on their lives. When Macbeth's wife died, he reacted to the news by saying "[t]here would have a time for such a word." (Shakespeare 202) He became emotionless and cared for only his power. Even the death of his wife sparked no emotion from him. He just appeared as if he still cared about her, but in reality, her death had no impact on him. However, Alexander did quite well with his results. He "mov[ed] up in the career ladder [which] provided justification for what he was doing." (Gunn) He profited off his lies and corruption. This gave him motive to keep lying and misleading his coworkers. However, this is dangerous for Alexander because if his coworkers learn of this, they may turn violent towards him. 

In conclusion, anyone can become corrupt if given power. The best of men can become the worst just by giving them power. It can turn others into leaches who simply profit off others sufferings. Despite how great or how small, it can turn good men into corrupt men.



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