Essay on Corruption in Society
Corruption is the misuse of power and is an ongoing issue through many social conflicts, it is when one takes advantage of people due to their higher power, however many are often corrupted by power. When faced with power individuals are often overwhelmed and become infatuated with the idea of power, leading to nothing standing in the way between them and the power they desire. In multiple British texts corruption remains a similar topic as many people are corrupted whether it be by power, failed experiments, or drugs. Corruption is prominent in William Shakespeare's Macbeth, as both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth desire power which leads to their rash decisions, resulting in their downfall. Many British authors portray that corruption causes one to abuse their power leading to their downfall, therefore corruption acts as an infectious disease that overcomes people with low esteem.
Corruption of power is brought upon by greed to obtain what one desires, but when coming into power, the control that comes from power begins to alter their minds as they become a threatening individual. Throughout Macbeth the author uses character development to demonstrate the destructiveness of corruption, as Macbeth is displayed as an individual with high virtues until his obsession with power begins. After being corrupted by the three witches and Lady Macbeth to kill Duncan, his personal desires for power cause him to go to the farthest extents to gain it. He kills Duncan, and then views his best friend and his son as a threat leading him to order their deaths to secure his throne. He states,
So is he mine, and in such bloody distance
That every minute of his being thrusts
Against my near’st of life. And though I could
With barefaced power sweep him from my sight ( III.1.132-135).
Macbeth sees no wrong in killing his friend because his mind is corrupted by power. His personal desires suppress his high morals because once he is corrupted by power, anyone who he believes could obtain his power, he views as a threat. The corruption of his mind does not allow him to view situations in an ordinary fashion, and he does not think about the consequences that may follow because his power corrupts him turning him into a greedy man.
Similarly in Frankenstein written by Mary Shelley, Victor Frankenstein is corrupted by the idea of bringing the dead to life in a way to commemorate his mother's life. Losing someone causes individuals to approach a darker place in their lives, which is what led Victor into his obsession of bringing back the dead. Shelley also uses character development to explain the change in virtues in Victor as he begins his experiment to memorialize his mother, but lets the thought of power obtain corrupt him. Victor states, “A new species would bless me as its creator and source” (Shelley 40).
The protagonist originally questions his experiment as he believes that defying the odds of human nature will come with utter consequences. When he is corrupted by the power he could obtain by creating the monster and a species that would worship him, his values change and he believes power is more important than the consequences he may face. Overall power corrupts both Macbeth and Victor Frankenstein as they allow power to alter their morals and do not think about the consequences that may follow. Macbeth is overcome by power as before he conforms to the orders of others and then is able to make orders on his own, but does not discern the outcome it may have. Similarly, Victor is overwhelmed by the power he may obtain due to him feeling lost after the death of his mother, but believes that after creating the monster power will fill the hole of loneliness he once felt. He is overcome with this desire that he as well forgets the consequences the heinous acts may bring.
Along with the corruption conducting power, corruption of an individual also leads to one's downfall. In Macbeth the protagonist is overtaken by power leading to his rash decisions, but is unaware of the consequences his heinous acts will bring; his downfall. Macbeth's actions lead to his own downfall as his mind is solely controlled by power and he believes that anyone who is a threat to him, he can get rid of. His power makes him believe he is unstoppable when he truly is. When macduff claims he holds the power to kill him, he states,
That palter with us in a double sense,
That keep the word of promise to our ear,
And break it to our hope. I’ll not fight with thee. (Macbeth V.8.20-23).
Macbeth's courage fades as he learns the witches words were tricks. He states that he will not fight Macduff, knowing he has no chance now. As power corrupts Macbeth, he fails to realize his downfall approaching him. When Macbeth is overcome by power it corrupts his thoughts and he fails to realize the consequences that are inevitable due to the cruleness his corruption has brought. Apart from this, in Smack by Melvin Burgess, the author expresses how the use of drugs corrupt innocent children. Burgess uses drugs as a symbol of corruption, as the drugs corrupt the innocence of the main character Tar and Gemma. The two run away from home believing their lives at home are difficult and living on their own, but when faced with no rules to follow, and being free at such a young age, the two let the drugs corrupt them.
After becoming addicted to heroin, the two face many hardships and lose track of their young lives, allowing the drugs to take over. Tar is arrested and states, “Thank God that's over. It was out of my hands, see? ... No more decisions, no more failures, no more promises and lies. No more heroin. I'd lose everything... I was thinking, What a relief, I don't have a life any more” (Burgess 242). Tar is thankful to be arrested because it is the only place that can shelter him from the power of the drugs. The two leave home in hope of experiencing the world on their own as young lovers, but fail to realize the complexity of the world. The power of drugs overcome the young protagonists and they do not realize the consequences of heroin until their downfall has begun. Burgess uses drugs as a symbol of corruption in an appropriate manner to display how something powerful can take over one's innocence leading to their downfall; addiction and prison. Overall both Macbeth and Smack display how corruption leads to one's downfall, as too much power becomes overused, whether it be addiction or greed.