The Trouble with Power Essays

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Many of Shakespeare's plays explore the issue of political power. These works investigate

how political power is acquired; how it is wielded; and most importantly how it effects the

individual. Shakespeare seeks to illustrate through the tragic lives of his characters Coriolanus,

Julius Caesar, and Marcus Antony that political power is a destructive force when it is not

respected and utilized responsibly.

The character Coriolanus was a man accustomed to power. He was a great warrior skilled

in the art of physical domination and was adept at controlling thousands of men. Coriolanus was

comfortable in his position as a leader of the armies of Rome because no one questioned his

authority. In his capacity as
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His military mode of

thinking made him believe that he should never compromise. In his opinion to compromise was

to admit defeat. The final flaw was his all-encompassing pride. Pride directed his every move in l

life and caused him to react in a childish, stubborn manner.

Coriolanus was a failure in his bid for political power because he did not have the

capacity for compromise. He was unable to learn that to gain power sometimes you had to back

off from your position and consider the other point of view. His pride overwhelmed his

sensibilities and he blindly responded with outrage to all situations in which his power was called

into question. In the end, his pride was the ultimate cause of his destruction.

The play Julius Caesar looks at the problem of being too comfort able with power. At the

starting point of the play, Caesar is the most powerful man in Rome, a fact which he is well

aware of. His power and position seem to be securely in place. But, Caesar has made a serious

miscalculation at this point in his life. He has become too comfortable in his power and feels that

he is untouchable. As a result of this feeling of security, Caesar makes several mistakes which

seal his fate.

Caesar feels that he is safely ensconced in his ruling position and so he can abuse his

power. He is a popular ruler who is

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