The Dangers of Accepting the Rules of Society without Question
The Dangers of Accepting the Rules of Society without Question
A society is a group of people who live together in an ordered community. The society represents the culture and brings about the order by defining how people live together. The study of literature is essential in enriching the values and being a revelation to society. In the majority of literature, the reader sees a conflict between the values of society and personal values. In Athol Fugard’s “Master Harold”…and the boys and William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, the dangers of accepting the rules of society without question brings about detrimental effects on relationships, ambition, and teachings.
Relationships are affected by the acceptance of the rules of society without questioning. In Athol Fugard’s “Master Harold” …and the boys, the play depicts a clear picture of real affection between Hally and Sam. Hally finds solace in the presence of Sam, whom he views as a friend. He enjoys the intellectual debates with his friend (Fugard, 2009). However, society’s view on non-white people is negative, and outside the café, the racial division in South African society affects their friendship. The relationship between Hally and his father is also affected by the values of society. His father is a white belonging to the middle class, who is a drunk bully because of his skin color. Hally is ashamed of his father, and consequently, he is arrogant and depressed. More so, he prefers Sam to be a father figure than his father, but his apartheid mindset prevents him from realizing the importance of Sam in his life. On the other hand, in William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, Ceasar is depicted as a powerful man with the confidence to lead and rule the Roman Empire. However, despite the greatness as portrayed by society, his close friends killed him. Men in the play ought to choose their loyalty to friends or the Roman Republic. Brutus, in the play, betrays his friend Ceasar by joining the assassination plot conspiracy despite the knowledge of power held by his friend (Wills, 2011). Brutus wished for an ideal, perfect life. Despite his friendship with Ceasar, he fears the hunger that his friend has to power, which could lead to the destruction of the Republic. Brutus was manipulated because of his idealism leading to his downfall. Therefore, relationships can be affected negatively by the values of society.
Ambition is affected by the values of society. In Athol Fugard’s “Master Harold”…and the boys, Sam is ambitious and determined to keep his virtues intact rather than being violent. The context of the play was in the era of segregation of the white and black people in South Africa. The character’s behavior, status, and beliefs in the play portray forced segregation even when the specific laws are not stated. Hally, despite being fond of Sam and preferring him to his father, makes insensitive comments about racism in the play (Fugard, 2009). His anger at the end of the play caused him to spit on Sam because he knew that he is black and cannot retaliate. Sam reasons and shames Hally through his behavior and morality. His action teaches Hally a lesson of honor. Sam extends his hand towards Hally as a sign of reconciliation and gives him a chance to leave his past. Sam appears to be ashamed of his attitude that is fostered by society. On the other hand, in William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, ambition is the main theme of the play. Caesar is portrayed as an ambitious and great man. At the beginning of the play, Caesar is admired and hailed because of his conquest and humility. Cassius is also depicted as an ambitious man who conspires to kill Caesar because of his power. Caesar’s hunger for power and his ambition made Brutus worry about the result. Brutus hesitated to join the conspiracy plot, but Cassius, who was manipulative, convinced him into joining the plan (Schanzer, 2013). However, after his death, Brutus and his team paint him as an ambitious man who was power-hungry. Brutus proclaims to his fellow conspirators after Caesar’s death that the “ambition’s debt is paid” (III.i.82) (Wills, 2011). According to them, Caesar had the ambition of enslaving Rome. However, Mark Anthony asks the crowd, “did this in Caesar seem ambitious?” referring to Caesers kindness towards the poor. In his speech, he claims that Brutus and his fellows were wrong about Caesar. The change of events in the end of the play led to downfall of Brutus and his fellow conspirators. Therefore, the values of society affect the ambition of the people regardless of how meaningful they can be.
Teachings are affected by the values of society. In Athol Fugard’s “Master Harold”…and the boys, Hally teaches Sam the lessons he had learned from school, offering him the opportunity to obtain the knowledge that he would not have acquired considering his race and age. Sam, on the other hand, teaches Hally to become a better person than his father. However, their background and the societal values made Hally refuse to accept the advice and teaching from Sam. Consequently, Hally expresses anger, contrary to Sam’s teachings (Fugard, 2009). The actions of Hally do not show how Sam’s teachings were of less importance, but it portrays the extend of the apartheid’s influence on Hally. Therefore, the values of the society affect how the teachings are received regardless of how essential they could be. On the other hand, in William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, Romans had teachings about omens that held their faith. Their teachings were strict about the omens because they believed they would come true. Caesar was warned by the soothsayer to beware of the ides of March. Calpurnia also gave him a detailed dream about his death (Wills, 2011). However, Caesar ignored these warnings, including the sacrificial animal that had no heart. Caesar’s death came after his ignorance. Casca also saw strange omens after the Lupercalia festival, such as roaming lion in the streets, a man whose hand was burning, and screeching owl during the day. In the interpretation, Casca warns Caesar about the consequences of wishing to rule Rome and to destroy the Republic (Schanzer, 2013). Therefore, some of the rules are for the good of the members, and avoiding them could have adverse effects.
In conclusion, society values affect various aspects of individuals that are part of society. The rules of society are important because they are meant to protect the interests of all members. Some of the rules positively affect the members by preventing an impending danger, while others are meant to bring harmony to all. With the changes in society, questioning some of the rules is reasonable, especially those that look outdated. However, if these rules are avoided without questioning, their effects could be detrimental to the individual members of society.
Fugard, A. (2009). ” Master Harold”–and the Boys. Vintage.
Schanzer, E. (2013). The problem plays of Shakespeare: A Study of Julius Caesar, measure for measure, Antony and Cleopatra. Routledge.
Wills, G. (2011). Rome and rhetoric: Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. Yale University Press.