Language is the human capacity for acquiring and using complex systems of communication. (Wick). To have language is to have power. This idea of language relating to power is so prevalent in our literature that one rarely identifies it as the major theme, however, it is. Power is language and language is power. In the play Waiting for Gadget by Samuel Becket and in the novel The Blazing World by Margaret Cavendish we see just how much language has control over literature. Both of these works of art have the underlining theme of language controlling the power.
This paper will demonstrate how the characters that articulate their language elegantly display the most power. Estrogen and Vladimir in Waiting for Gadget demonstrate their penitence on Gadget and lack of power, which is shown in their language, while the Empress in Blazing Worlds holds all the power through her language. Waiting for Gadget is based on the power of language. Language is something that is rarely associated with power, but in all literature power is exposed through words.
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In The Blazing Worlds language connects directly to power “Empress had an excellent gift of preaching, and instructing them in articles of faith; and by that means, she converted them not only soon, but gained an extraordinary love of all her subjects throughout the world. (Cavendish 163). This line demonstrates that the Empresses way of expressing her language captivates the people and gives her the power to bring her own religion to the world and have all the people worship it and love her. However, Waiting for Gadget does something interesting with its language relating to power.
The dialogue between the characters has no real meaning; it’s the stage direction that tells the readers what truly is going on. “Estrogen: Well, shall we go? Vladimir: Yes, lets go They do not move. ” (Becket 59 Act l) The power in this story is displayed through actions rather than words. The fact that the characters do not act on their words shows that their language is meaningless, which displays they hold no power. In the play Henry V, Henry uses his power of language to manipulate his troops into believing that they are able to win the war.
His speech further articulates the point that language is equivalent to power. He made his men believe that they had the power to conquer the war through his character of Jack in the Unfortunate Traveler. Jack uses his language to manipulate the bar tender to provide the troops with free alcohol. Although this power is not sharable to the power that Henry V holds, this demonstrates Just how convincing language is. This simple mission proves that articulating language in a certain way can make one gain power.
The Empress in Blazing Worlds expresses her power of language when she banishes the and lice-men whom were the mathematicians, “neither truth nor Justice in their profession; and so dissolved their society. (Cavendish 160). Due to the fact that the Empress could not understand their language she dissolved their society. The Empress was threatened by not understanding their language, she knew that language was power; hence she strayed their language to rid their potential power. This extremely different then in Waiting for Gadget, Vladimir and Estrogen do not hold power that’s why their language is meaningless.
They say things and never do it. For instances the talk about hanging themselves. They make an elaborate plan to commit suicide then never do it because they want wait to see what Gadget says. This makes all their conversation hold no meaning, the only thing that they do is wait for Gadget. “Vladimir: Let’s wait and see what he says. Estrogen: Who? Vladimir: Gadget. Estrogen: Good idea. Becket 13 Act l) Their language about his importance allows Gadget to hold all the power; their language articulates the power to him. Prospers in Shakespearean Tempest has control over everything similar to Gadget.
In the Tempest Ariel is endeavored to Prospers even though she holds the magic and skills that he needs. “Remember I have done thee worthy service, Told thee no lies, made thee no mistaking, served without or grudge or grumbling. Thou did promise to bate me a full year. ” (Tempest 1. 2. 247-250). Ariel is the one that holds to ability to ruin ships and control fate, over she is sired to Prospers, similar to Estrogen and Vladimir relationship with Gadget. They have the ability to leave whenever they want; however they stay. The language that is used when Prospers and Ariel speak to each other shows the power Prospers holds over her.
To the contrary, in Waiting for Gadget the way in which Vladimir and Estrogen speak to each other about Gadget shows the power Gadget has over them. “Vladimir: Wait for Gadget. Things have changed here since yesterday. Estrogen: And if he doesn’t come? Vladimir: We’ll see when that time comes. (Pause) I was saying that things have changed here since yesterday. (Becket 66 Act l) This conversation shows that the idea of Gadget has all the power over them, they have been waiting in the same place for two days, with no idea when this character will appear.
In other texts we see that language giving power in a completely different way. We see this in the texts Jack of Newbury and Masters of F. J. In Masters of FAX the audience sees that the narrator GET holds the power because he has all of the letters, which contain all the language. While in Jack of Newbury Jack shows how the language of class and business holds different power. Although this is very different from how till accurately demonstrates that power that language holds. Additionally we see this in Pygmalion. The flower girl’s language correlates to her social status or power. IOW see this creature wit her curbstone English: the English will keep her in the gutter to the end of her days. “(Shaw Act 1; pi). This demonstrates how much power lies in language. Evidence of language articulating power is another difference in the Blazing Worlds and in Waiting for Gadget. In Blazing Worlds the Empress clearly expressed the power she has, while in Waiting for Gadget although it is clear that Gadget holds the power he never appears in the text. This is due to the fact that Blazing Worlds is a novel while Waiting for Gadget is a play.
These two works relate to the audiences in very different ways. The audience of The Blazing World, a novel, is most commonly an individual reader whereas Waiting for Gadget , a drama, is preformed on a stage for a larger audience Reading a novel versus watching a play effects the audiences ways of seeing. This is something that John Berger questions throughout his text. His novel is based on the fact that seeing comes before words, however, once someone sees something they put what they see into words, and that’s where the power is formed. A reader gets a completely different feel from a play versus a novel.
Cavendish novel was a means for her to articulate her language in order to gain power. The use of the pronoun “l” occurred in the novel in reference to the author herself. The Empress insinuated that anyone is capable of creating a world of their own in which they hold the power, Cavendish stated this in her “To the Reader” section of the book, “… Although I have neither power time nor occasion to conquer the world… ‘ have made a world of my own: for which no body, I hope, will blame me, since it is in every one’s power to do the like” (Cavendish 124). Cavendish uses this novel to show how much language articulates power.
Unlike The Blazing World, a play in which the stage directions articulates power. The character that voiced power in this play was not even presented in the novel. This is very unique because it is not the person’s direct language that articulated the power; it was the language and the actions of the other characters that articulated the power for Gadget. That is why dramatic texts are written in different formats. If this book were written as a novel, such as Blazing Worlds it would have has a total different effect. The audience needed to see how meaningless their language was.
At the end of each act they said they were leaving verbally but did not move. This was something that the audience got to see and then felt how much power Gadget had over them. “Estrogen: Well, shall we go? They do not move. ” (Becket 109 Act II) This line shows the main difference between a novel and a dramatic text. Reading a text can provoke an individual to view the language of who holds the power differently than being a member of a large audience in a theater. In conclusion language-articulating power differs significantly in The Blazing World and Waiting for Gadget.
Waiting for Gadget established a world in which a character that never spoke held all the power due to how the two characters spoke of him; there language about him gave him the power. The Blazing World demonstrated a world in which she was language she made the people love her. Dramatic texts and novels can be understood differently based on the way it is preformed; explicitly regarding whom holds the power. Unlike Becket, Cavendish included her personal opinions and feelings to influence the reader alone. These factors play a vital role in the way the power of language is represented.