Through the texts The Shawshank Redemption directed by Frank Darabont, Lord of The Flies written by William Golding, Jack Reacher directed by Christopher McQuarrie and Anthem for Doomed Youth written by Wilfred Owen, the main theme that is seen extensively throughout these texts is conflict between the powerful and the powerless. This conflict is revealed through internal and external conflict, developed through theme and character. I chose these texts because they all explore a similar theme of conflict, yet in different times, social climates and environments.
Conflict between the powerful and powerless is explored through internal and external conflict in and between main characters. In The Shawshank Redemption, external conflict is shown through the relationship between the powerful Warden Norton and the powerless prisoner, Andy Dufresne. This relationship is one of the dominant relationships in developing the plot, showing me, the viewer the complexity of external conflict when the root of it is a greed for power. This greed is fuelled by fear or jealousy and leads to the destruction of friendships and relationships. This greed is very similar to the greed we see in everyday life and has been the root of world wars and various depressions around the world. In The Shawshank Redemption, greed is the root of the corruption in the prison. Warden Norton's greed is so extreme that he is prepared to kill minor character Tommy in order to keep Andy in prison to exploit his banking knowledge to launder money. Because of Andy's ability to commit fraud for the Warden, he gained power in that the Warden needed him so he must remain alive. Once Andy's ability was fully realised, there was a power shift. Andy was no longer the powerless prisoner but a powerful one, a prisoner that eventually had the power to overthrow Warden Norton and Shawshank Prison. Norton needed Andy, because without him there would be no way of him quenching his greed for money.
Similarly, in Lord of The Flies, written by William Golding, this idea of conflict is also developed through internal and external conflict. The internal conflict occurs between the morals and rules drilled deep into the main characters by society and family and the savage, sinister part of the human nature. The external conflict is centred around the relationship between the leaders Jack and Ralph. Initially, Ralph is the powerful one, chosen by the boys to be chief. Yet as the boys’ inner conflict developed as they struggled to survive, their inner savage thrived in this sudden lack of structure, authority and ruling. Because of this moral conflict between their law-abiding side and the prevailing savage side, the boys moved to support the leader of the savages, Jack Merridew. The boys shifted to support Jack because of his carefree approach to life on the island, his way of living seemed like more fun to the boys and helped them to forget about their past structured life back home. This carefree, violent way of living began to thrive after the death of Simon. Simon’s death was used as a turning point, as the boys realised that they had killed someone and had got away with it. This power shift encouraged acts of savagery against each other, Jack ordered boys to be punished and beaten for attempting to breach his rules. This leadership that Jack uses, ruling by fear, is seen commonly in dictatorships and rebel forces around the world, it was also the root of World War Two, through the Nazi uprising. Such leaders ruled by fear and their followers are too afraid to step out of line for the fear of being beaten or killed.
Furthermore, in Jack Reacher, powerlessness is explored by the director Christopher McQuarrie also through the theme of conflict, between Jack himself and the Russian gang members who plotted and killed the civilians. This conflict as in Lord of The Flies grows into a more serious, murderous one as minor character Sandy is killed to try…