In the Lord of the Flies, two of the main characters, Jack and Ralph, represent different forms of society. Ralph represents order and discipline, while Jack represents savagery and chaos. In this picture the boys are shown facing each other, each openly hostile towards the other. If you look at the picture a certain way, it almost seems like two different pictures, with the dividing line the spear in Jack’s hand. Somehow, the side Ralph is on seems lighter, while on Jack’s side, the rocks in particular look darker. The other boy in the picture is Piggy, who represents reason, and is portrayed in the book as kind of a neutral tool used by both sides, but mostly by Ralph, which could be why Piggy is in between the two boys but mostly on Ralph’s side. Interestingly, the dividing line between the two is the spear. This is where, at first, Ralph drew the line at the descent into savagery. While Jack almost immediately gave into what the author portrays as the natural predilection of man to murder, to hurt and kill those weaker than himself, Ralph held back, preferring instead to protect the weak. He refused to use the spear at first because he tried much harder than Ralph to resist the urge to resort to violence. This very decision by Ralph to attempt to avoid the savagery that Jack embraced was the main dividing line between the two in the book. Another ironic choice the author and directors of the movie made was that Jack should have painted and disguised himself, while Ralph remained clean and natural. Jack is the first to embrace the savagery that the author portrays as a fundamental part of the nature of mankind. Supposedly, if Jack were really embracing his inner nature through his descent into savagery, he would be shedding the “mask of civilization” that the others were so desperately clinging to. However, throughout the book Jack does not seem to be finding the whole truth about himself, but rather hiding from it. Jack intentionally paints his face to disguise himself, to make himself look ruthless and terrifying. He feels more freedom and power with the mask on, whereas Ralph feels more comfortable in his own skin. This implies that Jack still has something to hide, some part of him that is not quite as fierce and heartless as he wishes it was. Jack has not learned to accept all of himself, but merely a part of it. He accepts his innate cruelty but refuses to acknowledge the part of him that still wants to hold back and respect life instead of simply taking it, and to hide that part from others as well as himself he feels the need to paint over it, to change himself. Ralph is more comfortable with himself because he accepts the part of him that still clings to order as well as, gradually, the more feral aspect of humankind in general.
The Tempest is essentially a huge extended metaphor. It has been speculated that this is a metaphor for Shakespeare’s life, and that the magician, Prospero, is supposed to represent Shakespeare himself. If one looks at the play through this perspective, it takes on a new and much more interesting meaning. Prospero is clearly in control of both the characters and the events that take place throughout the entire story. Many times the characters acknowledge how powerless they are against him. Even Caliban, who hates being a slave, recognizes that he must do whatever Prospero tells him, and Ariel, the leader of the spirits who displays awesome supernatural powers, is reduced to shamelessly begging Prospero for his freedom. Even the entire plotline is dictated by Prospero, from the shipwreck to the precise spots where the passengers would end up on the island to Ferdinand and Miranda falling in love, thereby making his daughter the queen over his rival’s kingdom. So essentially, Prospero is the author of the tempest. And with being the author, having the power, Prospero gains the right to define truth and justice. Several times during The Tempest, such as when he forces Alonso to almost commit suicide through grief over the “death” of his perfectly safe son, or when the perfectly innocent Gonzalo gets caught in the crossfire, the ethics of Prospero are certainly questionable. But readers find themselves glossing over these small trifles and attempting to justify Prospero’s actions because he is clearly supposed to be the protagonist. Prospero is the hero. How can the hero be wrong? Miranda, Prospero’s daughter, is a perfect example of this. Only once during the entire play does it occur to her to disagree with anything her father says. “More to know did never meddle with my thoughts”…these words describe Miranda exactly. Her father tells her things and she accepts them without question, never questioning his credibility or ethics, never considering that the story that is presented to her might not be the full truth. In this way, is Miranda a metaphor for the readers? Believing that the protagonist can do no wrong and never questioning his actual motives? If one begins to step out of this box, the entire story takes on a whole new level of intrigue. What if Prospero was really a horrible duke? What if Antonio, his “perfidious” brother, assumed the dukedom purely to save the kingdom from ruin? What if Prospero brainwashed Ariel to make him believe he owed Prospero his freedom? Very seldom when reading a play does the reader question the “truth” that has been set before him or her. However, in The Tempest, Shakespeare seems to be encouraging the reader to do just that. Through Prospero, Shakespeare explores the ambiguity of truth – after all, winners write history books – and justice. The writer controls the play. He controls what he makes the readers believe. He controls the characters, their emotions, the plots, and what is and is not acceptable for a character to do, exactly like Prospero does in The Tempest. And at the end of the Tempest, Prospero gives up all this power. He gives up his absolute control over his little world, which is essentially what Shakespeare does after he writes this play. The Tempest is supposedly the last play Shakespeare wrote. He achieved his goals and then relinquished control, as Prospero did, and, as alluded to in the scene with Ferdinand and Miranda playing chess, passed it on to a new generation who would continue the art he’d loved.
In The Tempest, one of the prominent themes is the ambiguity of truth. The audience is largely kept in the dark as to what is true and what is not. For example, when Prospero is telling the story of when his brother overthrew him, we are accepting this story on his word and his word alone. We do not know if any or all of the elements of this story are true, and Prospero shows that he doesn’t mind lying, even to his daughter. When he sees that she is upset about the shipwreck, he tells her “Tell your piteous heart there is no harm done” (1.2.15-16). However he later asks Ariel, “But are they, Ariel, safe?” (1.2.257), implying that although he did not hesitate to reassure Miranda of the safety of the passengers, he did not actually know whether or not they were alive. This makes the audience slightly more hesitant to take Prospero’s word for granted. He also says that he had been nothing but kind to Caliban until Caliban tried to rape Miranda, whereas Caliban says that he had been friendly and loving towards Prospero and in return all he got was imprisonment, and he only raped Miranda to try to get back the island that was rightfully his. Again, we are unsure as to which side of the story here, if either, is the whole truth. Because Caliban is clearly portrayed as a monster we are less inclined to believe him than the protagonist magician, even though Prospero has already displayed a tendency to stray from the truth. Miranda, at least in this part of the story, believes everything her father tells her without question, according to her inherently trusting and loving nature and the fact that she’s been sheltered her whole life from the outside world. Ariel also seems willing to agree with Prospero in everything and displays a subservient nature similar to Miranda’s, so Prospero has no one but Caliban to question his word.
~ Ariel wrecking the ship ~
Friedrich Nietzsche’s statement that “As a means for preserving the individual, the intellect unfolds its principle powers in dissimulation, which is the means by which weaker, less robust individuals preserve themselves,” is one of the main themes in the Odyssey. Odysseus, the hero, is constantly getting himself out of situations in which he is hopelessly outmatched in strength using his intellect. The main example of this is at the Island of the Cyclopes. The Cyclops, Polyphemos, is described as a “giant” and a “mighty man”, who later proves to have such superhuman strength that he was able to pull off the top of a mountain and throw it at Odysseus’s ship. Odysseus, a mere mortal, could not have competed with the Cyclops physically, so he resorted to his wits. He got the Cyclops drunk and poked out his eye with a stick. Then he told Polyphemos that his name was “Nobody,” so when the Cyclops screamed to his friends that “Nobody’s tricked me, nobody’s ruined me,” the other Cyclopes would not come to save him. Odysseus owed this victory against the Cyclops to his cleverness alone, which was able to triumph over the giant’s incredible strength and brutality.
If I were a superhero, I would be Violet from The Incredibles.
First, Violet is the superhero that all little girls look up to because she is extremely relatable. She is, for the most part, a normal teenager. She is sarcastic…
fights with her little brother…
and yet is willing to do anything to protect him.
She likes spending time alone listening to music more than interacting with people…
and struggles with many of the same problems as real-life high school girls.
Violet is incredibly powerful but doesn’t realize just how “incredible” she is. She has self-esteem problems and is really shy, having been taught her whole life to hide who she is. This is highlighted by her superpowers. She is able to turn invisible and hide from the world and create force fields to protect herself from it. Her nature is to retreat within herself and keep the world at a distance. However, this changes throughout the course of the movie. The viewer watches as Violet becomes more and more comfortable with herself and her abilities and begins to realize just how powerful she is. Violet turns into a confident, capable young woman and learns to open up and let people in.
In short, Violet is an incredible super hero, not just for her powers, which personally I would love to have, but also for the strength that she finds within herself. She is an incredibly underrated character and few people appreciate how relatable and heart-warming her coming-of-age story is.
If I could be any superhero, I would want to be my personal hero, Violet Parr.