Powerful acts of representation shape the political outcomes and ideologies made by composers, position audiences to perceive their perspective favourably. The Crucible (1953), a play by Arthur Miller set in the late 17th Century, utilises the features of theatre to represent the corruptive influence of power from maintaining the orthodoxy of the Puritan Church. Barrack Obama’s political speech “Change has Come” (2008) likewise explores the conflicted illusion and reality of the American Dream. Finally, Bhutan’s Enlightened Experiment (2008) by Brook Larmer examines the transition of Bhutan from Monarchy to Democracy, detailing the humanism of a benign monarch. Through these texts, we perceive how representations of the ‘goodness’ and ‘evil’ that humanity is capable of, shapes audience’s perception of these historical events. This can be acknowledge through three key aspects explored by each author: The power of politics in shaping the status quo, the power of individuals in shaping values and attitudes, and finally, the malleability of truth by powerful political forces.
The representation of political power as it manipulates the social contract to control and impose its political motives on a society brings out the best or the worst of human nature. Authors utilises representations to indicate how the social contract is used to oppress and manipulate the individual to conform and forsake their rights. For Miller, his authorial intrusion reveals that Salem, “developed a theocracy… to keep the community together,” for the alternative was an, “American continent [that] stretched endlessly… [which] stood, dark and threatening.” As a result, Miller explores the reality that power corrupts, and that the church’s use of their theocratic political power to dictate the lives of others to further it’s motive of dominion. Miller’s use of the hyperbolic metaphor, “The Devil has become… a weapon designed… to whip men into a surrender to a particular church or church-state,” creates the clear impression that the Protestant Church uses the worst of human fears and self preservation to impose it’s political will upon the citizens. Barak Obama’s speech “Change has Come” likewise demonstrate how the powers that be impose their political will upon the people through acts of persuasive representation. Like the Crucible, Obama (a Democrat) first draws upon a vision of a collapsed state that exploits it’s people, “There are mothers and fathers who will lie awake…wondering how they’ll make the mortgage, or pay their doctor’s bills, or save enough…” In order to elevate the civil rights record of his Democrat party. Obama represents the political vision of the democrats as a continuation of the American Dream, he cites, “Ann Nixon Cooper [who] is 106 years old.” and inspires us with the anecdote that “she touched her finger to a screen” and served as evidence for overcoming the historical racism, classism, sexism struggle of the U.S; instilling responders with hope. Therefore, both authors use an act of powerful representation – by eliciting the best and worst of human nature to persuade individuals to abide by a society and it’s status quo.
Representation is also used by composers in revealing that an individual’s motives can have significant impacts on their values and attitudes in politics, thus bringing out the best or worst that a society is capable of. Barak Obama’s speech “Change has Come” draws extensively upon his own political motive of becoming an iconic, salvation figure of American politics. He initially draws the audience’s sympathy with the brutal reality that, “The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. There will be setbacks and false starts. A government can’t solve every problem.” However his aporia only serves to elevate the anaphora of his political promises to the American people. He stipulates, that, “I promise you… I will listen to you… and I will ask you to join in the work of remaking this nation.” Which acknowledges the importance of individual aspirations and motivations in shaping the aspirations of a transparent and democratic society. For Larmer in “Bhutan’s Enlightened Experiment”, it is the intent of the King to “give the greatest give of all… Democracy” to his people that shapes these competing perspectives. Indeed, the author represents the King’s choice to abdicate as a great demonstration of his personal vision, one in which, “democracy” has allowed Bhutan to proverbially, “leap from the Middle Ages to the 21st Century without loosing it’s balance.” Even his detractors who accuse the king of having too much influence, and raise the potential that in a monarchy, “But whatever the king says, we must eat —whether sweet or sour, poisonous or delicious,” express their concerns with satire and a lack of conviction. Instead, the King’s advocacy of democracy is presented as an act of “non attachment,” representing him to the likes of deified figures such as Buddha. Thus, composers use representation to reveal that an individual’s motives can have significant impacts on their values and attitudes in politics, bringing out the best or worst that s society is capable of.
Finally, a powerful act of representation is able to shape the ‘truth’ and ‘reality’ of a country, and it’s attitudes and values. This is often achieved through representation the laws and rules of a nation as benevolent, or malevolent. For Larmer in “Bhutan’s Enlightened Experiment”, a marring spec of Bhutan as the “happiest place on earth” is the purging of non ethnic Bhutanese from it’s boarders. Individuals like Govinda Dhimal, whose family had “lived in Bhutan for 85 years,” are exiled, and has created “one of the world’s most intractable refugee crises.” However, the King narratives a more palatable truth, that “Bhutan is wedged between India… China…two political giants,” and that, “The only factor … which can strengthen Bhutan’s sovereignty and our different identity is the unique culture we have.” The high modality and logos of the King’s words thus convince the western media that exiling undesirable citizens is a morally acceptable pathway for Bhutan to maintain it’s sovereignty. Likewise, Miller represents the subjective nature of truth through Proctor’s resistance. Miller represents the figure of moral integrity through Proctor, who offers his life in hope of restoring his soul. This is represented by Miller’s stagecraft, in which he uses stage directions, [His breast heaving, his eyes staring, Proctor tears the paper and crumples it, and his weeping in fury, but erect] to convey Proctor’s pain and inner conflict. It communicates to the audience Proctor’s integrity, and represents the witch trials as an unethical and unjust attempt at maintaining the status quo. Therefore, powerful acts of representation using both the best, as well as the worst of humanity signify audience as to how they should perceive these historical events.
In conclusion, representation of composers have powerful impact on how we perceive events and perspectives about issues and personalities.