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Commentary: “Authority intoxicates, and makes mere sots of magistrates; The fumes of it invade the brain, And make men giddy, proud and vain.”- Samuel Butler (1835-1902)

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  1. Introduction
  2. Power struggles in education
  3. Teachers pets
  4. The diagnostic function
  5. The professor's Mr. Hyde persona
  6. Students: Succumbing to force and threats
  7. The pupil's environment in the play
  8. Reprimand and chastise the pupil
  9. Conclusion

Who would think that authority would be able to cook up such a dangerous recipe for human flaws? But upon closer consideration, you begin to compare the attitudes and persona of those with power and those lacking it. The empowered ones walk and talk differently. They possess an air of confidence. Something sparkles in their eyes. Is it the byproducts: pride, giddiness or vanity that Butler mentions? Yes, but despite these shortcomings, we are all hungry to shine. Some of us, however, will never have the chance to star in the limelight. We will forever be enslaved to a higher system of power and authority that will overtly and covertly control us and make our decisions. Who are these victims of authority and where is its origin? Students in schools.

[...] In addition to the physical act, Ionesco may also be commenting on the symbolic rape and destruction of a student's imagination and creative thirst for knowledge. By forcing the same standardized theories and subjects upon students year after year, they become desensitized to the significance and vast power that lies in knowledge itself. He seems to be warning us about the different kinds of dangers that may arise when teachers become more and more domineering over students. Both types of violence, whether it be physical or psychological are detrimental in an educational environment. [...]

[...] They are doctors who have the power to wholly transform a student's and parent's self-esteem or opinion of themselves. But it is deservingly so, because without a teacher's beaming recommendation, you do not go to Harvard. The diagnostic function also utilizes the ominous "permanent record" which keeps a detailed and meticulous record of an entire academic career, inclusive of even elementary school. Students regard these records as threatening mechanisms toward achieving obedience, compliance, and complete surrender from students. No one wants to ruin chances of getting a good grade, and thus destroying their perfect record, just so they may briefly defy a teacher's intelligence or patience. [...]

[...] Similar to my math teacher's angry reaction, the professor consistently blames the student for her lack of knowledge and makes her feel very stupid. By yelling ?It's not my fault. She didn't want to learn? (Ionesco, he displaces the blame onto the pupil trying to justify her murder. There is such irony in that teachers are supposed to teach, yet he would rather get angry than take the time to educate her. Earlier he scolds, it's so simple! So simple! [...]

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