Menu

The that this class—the one that, in

0 Comment

The ideas of power and corruption are displayed very well in George Orwell’s 1984 and
Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner. In 1984, Orwell created a totalitarian government which he
simply called ‘The Party’. Big Brother personifies the Inner Party, as the ever-present face
shown in posters and the telescreens that constantly monitor each and every individual. The
Party rules over the fictional continent of Oceania, which comprises England, its capital; and
other commonwealth nations such as the Americas and South Africa. The Kite Runner, however,
sees the main setting of Afghanistan ruled by first a monarchy, then by the Soviet Union, and
finally the Taliban.The Taliban is an Islamic fundamentalist political movement in Afghanistan
currently waging a holy war, called a jihad, within that country. Within each novel, the power
and corruption of each governing agent is showcased as working against to the main characters’
interests. The theme of corruption is demonstrated through the government’s principles, its
absolute power, and its use of torture.
.
The principles of the ruling powers in each book are inherently corrupt and cruel. This
can be seen through the ideology, stance on gender, and divisions of class. The Party follows an
ideology they call Ingsoc, short for English Socialism. Ingsoc establishes that all knowledge,
meanings, values, and reality are contained in the Party’s tenets. This leads to corruption, as with
total power, the Party can change anything they want to fit their ideology. The Ministry of Truth,
for instance, is in charge of doctoring history books to reflect the Party’s ideology. To believe
anything other than what the Party believes in is criminal, and usually results in the offender’s
execution. The Party is conceived of as a collective mind that may or may not endorse an
individual’s existence. In other words, anyone who fails to comply with Party rules will lose
existence, either metaphorically or factually. Ingsoc also takes care of class division. The upper
class, a very small percentage of the population called the Inner Party, is composed of the rulers
and enjoys all kinds of privileges, even the possibility of turning off the persecutory telescreens.
The middle class, called the Outer Party, is subjected to the harshest restrictions and are closely
watched. The rulers think that this class—the one that, in real past history, rebelled against
tyrannical governments and often succeeded in overthrowing them—poses the greatest danger to
the regime. The lowest class, or Proles, comprises the majority of the population and is seen by
the Party as inferior, on the same level as animals. They are, in relative terms, the most carefree.
Its members are not under constant surveillance, and are kept “dormant” through booze, free sex,
pornography, and other perks. This is a clearly unfair system in which only a tiny margin of
people have all the power and luxuries, where the vast majority of the population suffers as a
result. With power comes greed, and greed leads to a corrupt few with all the wealth. The
success of the Party relies greatly on the role of Gender. The only use for gender is procreation
of the Party and to make things seem like a family. The Party attempts to make gender irrelevant.
The Party made it so girls feel that sex is shameful and wrong, this makes it so that no one will
be having sex for pleasure and only for the Party to create life. “It was not merely that the sex
instinct created a world of its own which was outside the Party’s control and which therefore had
to be destroyed if possible. What was more important was that sexual privation induced hysteria,
which was desirable because it could be transformed into war-fever and leader-worship.”
(Orwell 197) The Party has turned the sexual impulses of the members and turned it into hatred
of Oceania’s enemies,this is the way the Party gets the people to get rid of their urges. The Party
made marriage so it is not a matrimony of two people in love, but instead a man and a woman
put together to help create for the Party.
Those who held power in The Kite Runner had corrupt principles as well. Afghanistan,
during the last portion of the novel, was run by the Taliban. The Taliban is a militaristic religious
regime who came to power when Afghani citizens were tired of the Soviet Union’s occupation,
and supported the force in order to drive them out. They held a very strict anti-modern ideology,
combining sharia law with Pashtun tribal codes, and believed in the militant Islamism and
extreme Jihadism of Osama bin Laden. They banned many things they considered unholy that
were previously lawful in Afghanistan, such as pork, different types of technology, alcohol, most
types of art like paintings and photography, and female sports. Men shaving their beards was
forbidden, and were required to wear a head covering. Their ideology was entirely
Islam-focused, and even then, it was their own interpretation. They effectively outlawed
anything that would go against their beliefs, much like the Party in 1984. The class difference is
evident, especially through race. Hassan, for example, as a Hazara, was unable to attend school.
He was harassed relentlessly by those around him, especially by the bully and primary
antagonist, Assef. These separations are consistent throughout the novel, even going as far as
Amir refusing to accept Hassan as his friend, saying; “History isn’t easy to overcome. Neither is
religion. In the end, I was a Pashtun and he was a Hazara, I was Sunni and he was Shi’a, and
nothing was ever going to change that. Nothing.” (Hosseini, 28). This is different than in 1984,
where the class division is treated as the same as the difference between humans and animals.
Here, it is shown as a more hate-filled and hostile tension between race. The theme of gender
was conveyed throughout the novel not only by the oppressive Taliban, but also in traditional
Afghani culture. The issue of oppression of women is shown through the character Soraya.
Soraya and Amir only speak at the flea market when the general is not in their presence as he
would not allow it. When the general finds out about them speaking he tells Amir that it is not
allowed, even if they are with Soraya’s mother. Soraya has no choice in whether she wants to
marry Amir, it is General Taheri who must agree that Amir is suitable. This is a corrupt tradition
to uphold, as it revokes the choice of who women want to spend their life with simply because
they are a different gender.
The overwhelming power of the novels’ governments are demonstrated in a variety of
methods, including the loyalty of its citizens, the strictness of the law, and a constant state of
war. The might of the Party’s evil, corrupt power is in its citizen’s submission to the government.
Citizens must be undyingly loyal to the Party morally, physically, and psychologically. They
must live and breathe Ingsoc. Citizens must hate who the Party hates, think what the Party
thinks, and work towards the Party’s ever-increasing power. A concept exists within the
language of the Party called ‘thoughtcrime’. When one holds holds in unspoken beliefs or doubts
about the Party, it is called thoughtcrime.. This is considered the ultimate crime, as it precedes
any other criminal or, more importantly, treasonous act. As such, every member’s loyalty must
not fall only to the way they behave, but to the very way they think. As the novel’s protagonist,
Winston, writes in his illegal diary: “Thoughtcrime does not entail death: thoughtcrime IS
death.” (Orwell 43). To sacrifice one’s loyalty to the Party is to sacrifice existence as a whole.
The absolute strictness of the Party and its ideology is corrupt in its unrelenting nature and
swiftness. In this novel the thoughtpolice are the secret police force.They’re main job is to
uncover thoughtcrime and punish the criminals. Surveillance and psychological monitoring are
used by the thought police to discover and remove threats to anyone who challenges the system.
The severity of the punishment can range from incarceration in a forced labour camp, to
‘vaporization’. When one is vapourized, “Your name was removed from the registers, every
record of everything you had ever done was wiped out, and your one-time existence was denied
and then forgotten. You were abolished, annihilated: vaporized was the usual word.” (Orwell
39). If you opposed the Party, any record of your existence is erased. This removes any
competition or freedom of thought from the people, and gives the Party all the power. The Party
is constantly at a state of war with one of the two other major superpowers of the world. It is said
“In one combination or another, these three super-states are permanently at war, and have been
so for the past twenty-five years. War, however, is no longer the desperate, annihilating struggle
that it was in the early decades of the twentieth century. It is a warfare of limited aims between
combatants who are unable to destroy one another, have no material cause for fighting and are
not divided by any genuine ideological difference.” (Orwell 166) War has become not a
necessity, but a tool to control the state’s constituents. Goldstein, a previous leader of the
rebellion and the number one enemy of the Party, said in his manifesto: “The essential act of war
is destruction, not necessarily of human lives, but of the products of human labor …. The social
atmosphere is that of a besieged city, where the possession of a lump of horseflesh makes the
difference between wealth and poverty. And at the same time the consciousness of being at war,
and therefore in danger, makes the handing-over of all power to a small caste seem the natural,
unavoidable condition of survival.” (Orwell 173). By staying constantly at war, the Party can
control the standard of living, and keep the citizens minds and fears occupied by a common
enemy. The Inner Party seem like protectors, and keeps the idea of rebellion nonexistent.
The corruption shown by those who held power in The Kite Runner is shown as well with
the massive amount of control those ruling hold over others. The idea of submission is shown
shockingly through not only the Taliban’s control over its people, but through the powerful scene
in which Hassan is raped by Assef. Those who want power know that it can be gained from
respect or fear. Assef, who is looking to be feared, does the unimaginable to demonstrate his
control over the Hazara boy, who, knowing there is nothing he can do, submits. “Hassan didn’t
struggle. Didn’t even whimper. He moved his head slightly and I caught a glimpse of his face.
Saw the resignation in it.” (Husseini 64). This is an absolutely corrupt act by Assef, who uses his
position to inflict meaningless pain and trauma onto Hassan. While submission in 1984 is
achieved by enforcing loyalty on the Party’s subjects, Assef dominates over Hassan with
physical violence and humiliation. Those with power in the novel are shown to be incredibly
strict with their punishments. The Taliban is seen patrolling the streets with rifles, and inflicting
the death penalty on those they see as heretical. When Amir returns to Kabul, he and Farid attend
a soccer game. During which, a group of Taliban soldiers conduct the execution of two people
charged with adultery. The executioner proclaims loudly: “We listen to what God says and we
obey because we are nothing but humble, powerless creatures before God’s greatness. And what
does God say? I ask you! WHAT DOES GOD SAY? God says that every sinner must be
punished in a manner befitting his sin. Those are not my words, nor the words of my brothers.
Those are the words of GOD!” (Husseini 232). The couple is buried up to their torsos in sand and
stoned to death. They receive the ultimate punishment for something which, in our society, is not
even illegal. The Taliban use their self-proclaimed connection with God as an excuse to use their
power to kill innocent civilians. This is similar to 1984 in that a comparably minor offence is
treated with the same punishment as any number of worse and more violent crimes, though the
Taliban believes they are acting on God’s will rather than the Party vaporizing thought criminals
for the pure sake of power. Warfare is a major tool used by the Taliban to increase their power.
As a very violent regime, the Taliban spread their influence through Afghanistan by killing.
Though they originally acquired support for pushing out the invading Russians, they kept
building their war-based empire by using violence as a means to increase their size. Eventually,
violence and death becomes a norm in Afghanistan, as Amir reflects as he walks through the
streets of Kabul: “I saw a dead body near the restaurant. There had been a hanging. A young man
dangled from the end of a rope tied to a beam, his face puffy and blue, the clothes he’d worn on
the last day of his life shredded, bloody. Hardly anyone seemed to notice him.” (Husseini 222).
With a consistent stream of attacks and murders, the Afghani people are left to feel afraid of their
new rulers. This is a different method of using warfare as power over their people as the Party
displayed. The Taliban’s method is more direct, instilling fear into their citizens to prevent
revolt, whereas the Party uses warfare as a means to keep their citizens distracted from reality.
The height of the corruption in each novel’s government is the use of torture, be it
physical, psychological, or to an individual’s integrity. In 1984, rebels and thoughtcriminals are
taken to the Ministry of Love, the center of torture and reeducation for the purpose of loving the
Party and Big Brother. When Winston was captured by Thought Police, he was brought to the
Ministry and tortured for months. He was starved and beaten consistently throughout the day, so
he would confess any multitude of crimes he may or may not have committed: “With that first
blow on the elbow the nightmare had started. Later he was to realize that all that then happened
was merely a preliminary, a routine interrogation to which nearly all prisoners were subjected.
There was a long range of crimes – espionage, sabotage, and the like – to which everyone had to
confess as a matter of course. The confession was a formality, though the torture was
real.”(Orwell 241). The Party did not care what confessions were true or not, Winston’s body
was tortured so violently for so long as an act of dominance. With a man’s body broken, they can
move onto his mind. After, a time, the fear of torture itself was enough to make Winston confess.
He was kept in a state of constant fear and ignorance. Eventually, he is forced to look in a mirror.
“He had stopped because he was frightened. A bowed, grey colored, skeleton-like thing was
coming towards him. Its actual appearance was frightening, and not merely the fact that he knew
it to be himself. He moved closer to the glass. The creature’s face seemed to be protruded,
because of its bent carriage …. Certainly it was his own face, but it seemed to him that it had
changed more than he had changed inside …. But the truly frightening thing was the
emaciation of his body. The barrel of the ribs was as narrow as that of a skeleton: the legs had
shrunk so that the knees were thicker than the thighs …. The curvature of the spine was
astonishing. The thin shoulders were hunched forward so as to make a cavity of the chest, the
scraggy neck seemed to be bending double under the weight of the skull. At a guess he would
have said that it was the body of a man of sixty, suffering from some malignant disease.” (Orwell
248) This takes a major psychological toll on Winston as he sees what his government has done
to him. He feels that this is what he received for rebelling against a corrupt government.
However, this still isn’t enough for the Party. He still is not loyal. He still holds a shred of
integrity. They want him to sever the one last loyalty he holds, to his love and partner-in-crime,
Julia. He’s taken to Room 101, the greatest fear of any rebel. In Room 101, victims are subjected
to their greatest fear. In Winston’s case, a cage of rats is attached to his face, and he is warned
that if the cage’s door opens, they will eat their way out though his face. He screams for them not
to do it, to do it to Julia instead. With that, his torturers are satisfied. Winston had finally broken
his last bonds of loyalty with anyone other than Big Brother. He had succumbed to the Party and
was willing to accept its way of life. The use of torture by the Party in 1984 is beyond corrupt, it
is evil.
The use of torture is recurring in Husseini’s The Kite Runner. While there are no scenes
of literal torture being used in an interrogation, characters are shown to be tortured by those with
power on a more personal level. Using physical violence to gain something from another person
is corrupt in nature, and is seen often by Assef. In a pivotal scene, Amir describes the beating he
receives from Assef when he confronts him for the last time. “The knuckles shattering my jaw.
Choking on my own teeth, swallowing them, thinking about all the countless hours I’d spent
flossing and brushing. Getting hurled against the wall. Lying on the floor, blood from my split
upper lip staining the mauve carpet, pain ripping through my belly, and wondering when I’d be
able to breathe again. The sound of my ribs snapping like the tree branches Hassan and I used to
break to sword fight like Sinbad in those old movies.” (Husseini 248). Assef goes far beyond
where he could have stopped. He tries to inflict as much pain on Amir as he can, only because he
can. Now that he is a leader in the Taliban, he has the power to beat anyone senseless without
repercussion. Like in 1984, Assef gains nothing out of hurting Amir this much, he does it only as
an act of power. Earlier, Assef tortures Amir in a different way, in his mind. While attending
Amir’s birthday party, he gives him a gift. “I tore the wrapping paper from Assef’s present and
tilted the book cover in the moonlight. It was a biography of Hitler” (Husseini, 82). Assef is
playing with Amir, and gave him that book to purposely offend him. He knows that Amir and
Hassan are friends, and that Hassan, being a race seen as ‘inferior’, falls under the same ideology
Hitler shared with the Jews. He taunts Amir, showing that he should be ashamed to have such a
friend. This is in contrast to 1984, where the psychological torture to which Winston was subject
was to demoralize his feelings about himself. Here, it is used to make Amir feel ashamed of his
loyalties and to distance him from the more ‘pure’ Pashtun Afghans. Finally, we see the
shattering of one’s integrity as a power move. While escaping Kabul the first time, Baba and
Amir’s van is stopped by Soviet soldiers. “Karim cleared his throat, dropped his head. Said the
soldier wanted a half hour with the lady in the back of the truck. … ‘It’s his price for letting us
pass,’ Karim said.” (Husseini 95). This corrupt soldier, who had already been bribed, was now
looking to get more out of the deal. He wanted to solicit the prostitution of a man’s wife so these
refugees could leave their own country. This shameful act is corrupt in nature as the soldier holds
the power, and was trying to get them to pay not only with money but with their integrity. Just
like in 1984, the person with power attempted to sever the bond between a man and a woman for
personal gain.
In conclusion, both George Orwell’s 1984 and Khaled Husseini’s The Kite Runner deal
heavily with the concepts of corruption of those with power. Both novels successfully use the
concept of power used irresponsibly and cruelly in creating turmoil for the protagonists. Winston
is at the mercy of the Party, where Amir is antagonized by Assef and the Taliban. The novels
explore the subject of corruption through corrupt principles, absolute power, and torture. By
placing the protagonists in a position with less power than their opponents, readers can see what
kind of corrupt acts a person or organization with power can inflict upon those without.

x

Hi!
I'm Viola!

Would you like to get a custom essay? How about receiving a customized one?

Check it out