The Utilization of the Concept of Power of Knowledge in Literature

May 5, 2021 by Essay Writer

The Power of Knowledge: Greater Good or Greater Evil?

Since the beginning of time, people have educated themselves through imitating acts of others as well as reading educational literature. Throughout history, we have relied on education in order to teach ourselves a trade, as well as educate ourselves on the past in order to prepare for what may come for the future. In the stories and poem, “Little Black Boy” by William Blake, “The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano by Equiano, and “The Home and the World” by Rabindranath Tagore, all use knowledge to tell the tale of their times and situations. While education and knowledge can be used for good, can’t it also be used for evil?

In “The Little Black Boy”, Blake tells of a small African slave child with his mother. The mother tells him that there is nothing wrong with his skin, as he is a “cloud” that covers the white child (16). The mother during this time had no education but she based her tale around Christianity, and spoke to her son this way in order to give him hope. During this period, slaves were not allowed to have education, as owners wanted to keep them oppressed. The owners were afraid that if the slaves became educated, the would revolt against the way they were being treated. However, with the mother’s outside knowledge of the Christianity, her self-knowledge of trusting God during her hardships got her through the days. While she spoke of only the religion, and never read, I believe the relationship between her outside knowledge of the bible’s teachings were strained as she only knew what she remembered but her self knowledge was ever preaching to keep on praying and working on to serve the white owners. The mother’s lack of education didn’t necessarily hurt her, as she held on to the religious teachings of God in order to get her and her son through.

“The Interesting Narrative of the life of Olaudah Equanio” was written by Equanio as he was pushing for the terrible acts of slavery to be abolished. Equanio’s experience of slavery wasn’t as abusive as we would like to think, however, he witnessed the mistreatment of slaves on many occasions. When first purchased by Micheal Henry Pascal, Equanio stayed and helped Pascal during the Seven Years War. While helping, Equanio learned of God and began reading and writing, gaining outside education that many slaves were never allowed to reach. As Equiano became traded around, he stayed in touch with his outside knowledge of God, as well as his self knowledge of the way the slaves were treated and direly needed to be freed. Equanio’s self knowledge combined with his outside knowledge complimented his life, as he was eventually freed and was accepted, however, it was also a deadly combination for the slave owners of this time. The evil treatment of slaves that Equiano had witnessed would become a part of his autobiography that would eventually be published in order to help combat and abolish slavery. Equanio’s outside education brought him power to tell and work towards the end of slavery, as well as his self knowledge, giving him the will to trust in God throughout his life.

“The Home and the World” tells of the lives of Nikhil, Bimala, and Sandip. In the tale, Nikhil wants Bimala to experience the outer world, as their love wouldn’t be true if she did not. Of course, Bimala wants their love to be true, however, she is torn. Bimala’s outside education had not been truly opened up until she becomes introduced to Sandip, an active leader of the Swadeshi movement. Bimala, even though married to Nikil, becomes attracted to Sandip, even though she is also repulsed by his actions when he cons her into stealing from her husband. While Nikhil pushed Bimala to gain outside knowledge, her self knowledge of her normal life and morals, brought tension when she interacted with Sandip. She knew his actions were not of good character or for the good of the movement, however, his ways of convincing her to fall for him and his wrong ways during the movement, caused her to realize his evil ways. Nikhil, even though upset at the thought of giving up Bimala, was at fault, in my opinion for telling her she needed outside knowledge of the world. He wanted her to get to know herself as a person but did not expect her to fall for someone else. Again both characters are brought tension in the plot due to their wants of the outside world, but their experiences with each other bring them back together. Bimala realized that Nikhil loved her but soon a riot takes place and her husband is shot and killed. The outside world that Nikhil had tried to get his wife Bimala to go for was the same world that killed him. Sandip had left and was no where to be found in this time, as he wasn’t willing to face what he had moved up to cause. Sandip’s outside knowledge of political matters and such were no help during this riot that caused pain to the people. Bimala’s lack of outside knowledge would have been better off if she had not met Sandip and gotten into his plans. Her love for her husband, even though questioned, was still in her self knowledge from their experience of a peaceful marriage.

Throughout the three stories, all characters had their outside knowledge of some sort that was combined with self knowledge. However, they all used their power of knowledge in different ways, whether for evil or good, the knowledge was required in order to make an impact on their situations. I believe that even though the education was needed, outside as well as self, the character’s relationship with knowledge truly made the stories what they are today.

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