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Notion Places and forms of power : how speech used to exert power, and in what different forms and places ?

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Par   •  12 Octobre 2017  •  Fiche  •  878 Mots (4 Pages)  •  1 159 Vues

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Places and forms of power

« Places » could be important buildings or institutions that represent a certain form of power or a symbol. A place can also be a country or a state. « Power » is the ability to control others, events, or resources; the ability to make things happen despite obstacles, resistance, or opposition. I will focus, on my analysis, on the power of speech. So, we will ask ourselves the following question:  How is speech used to exert power, and in what different forms and places?  We will respond by studying three different documents.

The first document is an extract of the famous and dramatic novel “ One flew over The Cuckoo’s Nest” written by Ken Kesey in 1962. The scene takes place in a psychiatric hospital where the institutional power reigns. Billy Bibbit is a nervous and shy patient with an extreme speech impediment. In this scene, Miss Ratched, the tyrannical “Big Nurse” finds Billy with a girl and understands that he has lost his virginity with the help of McMurphy, transgressing in this way the rules of the asylum.

She tries to gets back control on Billy but he resists against her attempt to affect him and for once, he don’t stammer. But at the evocation of his mother he loses completely his composure.

She found his weakness and uses blackmail to Billy by evoking his mother who is the source of his women’s problems because she’s very abusive and castratrice mother.The Nurse is misusing her power and abuses people thought by the speech. We feels empathy and compassion for him.

This scene shows us the consequences that the power of speech can have, simple words can pushes someone to suicide like Billy will do, we’ll learn it later in the book. Words can hurt as much, even more than blows. She uses his speech as a weakness and her speech as an arm.

The second document is an extract of a play named “Pygmalion” written by George Bernard Shaw in 1913. The scene takes place in London where three characters meet each other, Henry Higgins, Pickering and the Flower girl .

Higgins was taking notes on how to talk about the flower girl, which leads to a lively discussion between them when she realizes it, to which is added a man, Pickering. The flower girl have a vulgar and working class accent. Higgins is professor of phonetics. He seems a little pretentious and superior when he says is able to guess where everyone is from by their speech, as if by knowing where they are from, he thinks knowing who they are.

He thinks that the speech affect how people are perceived. He’s not violent in his speech on contrary of the nurse,is more teasing. He makes a bet that he can train the flower girl to pass for a duchess at an ambassador’s garden party, by teaching her to speak well, to make an impeccable speech.  

By setting the play in London, Shaw chooses to deal with a society that is particularly diversified.The play highlights British people's recognition of accents to differentiate among themselves not only geographically, but also to distinguish the various social classes. Language shows a part of our personality, our origin or the place we live in. Thanks to his knowledge of speech, Higgins have the power on other people. This shows how much we can be perceived only by speaking. The play shows us that speech can possibly be the key to accessing to the higher social classes and therefore to power.


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