Discuss the nature of power explored in the texts, Eva Luna, and A Doll’s House
In the two texts Eva Luna, and A Doll’s House, by Isabel Allende and Henrik Ibsen respectively, there are various people who have power over others. However this power comes in a number of forms, different characters use it for different purposes, and the ways the characters achieve it also differs. These different natures of power allow some people to succeed where others fail, and it is those who succeed that, in the end, have the true power.
In the novel Eva Luna, there are various people who are in positions of power. The one who is the most obvious to the reader is the General; a dictator. He has the power to control and manipulate others to do as he wants, in order to benefit himself. His power comes about through the use of force, violence, propaganda, and persuasive tactics. He can control people, but it is only because they fear him. There is no feeling by the people he has power over, that he deserves it, they have no respect for him, and so without his armies, his power is meaningless.
Rolf Carle’s father in Eva Luna parallels this nature of power. Lucas Carle has total control over his wife and children, to the point where he treats his wife more like a prostitute, and his children hide from him when he comes home because they fear a beating from him. It is this fear of being punished if one does not obey that gives Lucas Carle his power, and as in the case of the General, if the only reason to give in to someone’s power is fear of the consequences if one doesn’t, then this power gains no respect from those it affects.
The kind of power that the General possesses is totally different to that of Eva herself. Both of them are able to change people, however, where the General changes people through the force he puts onto them, Eva changes people from the inside. She is able to change people by bringing out what is already inside of them, and of herself. She does this by focusing on the positive parts of any situation, and in this way inspiring hope. Her power is based on having the courage to rise up against her oppressors, and the ability to lead others by evoking feeling and passion within them, instead of a power based on the fear of the consequences of not conforming. She doesn’t need an army behind her to enforce her ideas; people are drawn to her. One …
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…verse circumstances, but through their self-determination, they are able to triumph over these circumstances, and gain the power they lacked at the beginning of their journeys.
I believe that the authors of these texts are putting forward the message that true power is something that is innate in people, not something that can be achieved in the ways that the General, and Lucas Carle did. Where the power lies in a certain situation is not always where it first seems most obvious.
In these two texts there are different people who posses different forms of power in society. There are those who force ideas upon others, and who only wish to benefit themselves, and seek absolute power, but there are also those who have power because they are able to communicate to the core of other people, and they are able to give people the courage to stand up for what they believe. These are the people who have the true power, and who, in these two texts, eventually, in one way or another succeed.
1) Isabel Allende, Eva Luna, Alfred A. Knopf (trans), (New York; Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1988)
2) Henrik Ibsen, A Doll’s House, Michael Meyer (trans), (London; Methuen Drama, 1985)