Effect of power upon relationships, "Macbeth," "Prometheus Bound," and "Ubu Roi"

Essay by NessGirl33University, Master'sA+, December 2004

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Prometheus Bound


Ubu Roi

"Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." This quote by Lord Acton showcases what many literary works reflect, the capabilities of a dangerous thirst for power to cripple the strongest of bonds, whether familial or not. Dating back to the Bible with the story of Cain and Abel, the craving for superiority caused the breaking of the very first brotherly bond with the death of one at his own brother's hands. The works of Prometheus Bound, Macbeth, and Ubu Roi all make use of this literary melody, a strong relationship destroyed by one of it's own members as the tumultuous climb into power is undertaken.

The first component of this equation is of course the bond that will ultimately be broken. In a work by Aeschylus, entitled Prometheus Bound, this bond is shattered prior to the commencement of the play. Preceding Prometheus being chained to the mountain he and Zeus had been friends.

It should be understood before reading the play, Prometheus and Zeus were cousins. During the overthrow of the Titans, the former rulers of Mount Olympus, Prometheus sided with his cousin, Zeus, and helped him attain victory. It is insinuated by Prometheus that he would have sided differently had he known what was to occur, "Then look on him who was the friend of Zeus/And Fellow-founder of his tyranny,/In what fell agonies he bends my limbs!" (14). This same relationship of friendship and betrayal is found in the work Ubu Roi, written by Alfred Jarry. In this absurdist play, Papa Turd, guided by Mama Turd, wished to overthrow King Wenceslaus and take control of Poland. The murder of the king was too great a job for Papa Turd to undertake on his on and so he sought out the help...