Power is defined as political or national strength; the possession of control or command over others. Many people with power abuse their position through authority with manipulative strategies. The idea of abusive power and cruelty is shown in The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier when the school “gang”, The Vigils, manipulate other students into completing assignments on their behalf. Marquis Evrémonde displays these qualities in A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens through the cruel and poor treatment of the commoners who live under his control. In both selections, a common theme found is how abusive power and cruelty leads to rebellion. The Chocolate War expresses these ideas of how abusive power and cruelty lead to a rebellion throughout the book. “Emile never fooled around with Archie. In fact, Archie was one of the few people in the world Emile respected. Maybe even feared” (Cormier 51). This shows the true power of the Vigils, and how Emilie was one of the strongest boys in the school and still feared Archie. The Vigils abuse their power by sending other students out with tasks or “assignments”. They force students to do these assignments on their behalf, and because of The Vigils power, students can never refuse. “I’m not giving anything more to Trinity. Not football, not running, not anything” (Cormier 152). Goober is trying to gain back the power that was drained of him from the many powerful and controlling people at Trinity High. Goober refusing to participate in anything is a form of non-violent resistance and a sign of rebellion against the oppressors. All in all, characters in The Chocolate War are being oppressed and controlled, and the only way for this to stop is for them to rebel against the oppressors. Not only is the theme of abusive power and cruelty shown in The Chocolate War, it is also in A Tale of Two Cities.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way... (Dickens 1)
These lines, which open the book, come from the point of view of the commoners and show their hatred towards a character who has not been introduced into the book yet. It depicts how the commoners were suffering and reflects their own misery. This hatred that they express is basically foreshadowing events to come later in the book, which is the revolution.
Along the Paris streets, the death-carts rumble, hollow and harsh. Six tumbrils…