In the current essay, the main aim is to write a thematic analysis of “The Use of Force” by William Williams, focusing on the plot’s drama and comparing it to the “36 Dramatic Situations” by George Polti. Moreover, the paper discusses the ‘legitimate versus illegitimate use of force, and whether the doctor had a right to perform the actions. The essay’s conclusion is devoted to the explanation of why the story’s theme is relevant to current news.
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The short story “The Use of Force” by William Williams is about a doctor, who arrives at the Olson house to examine a little girl, Mathilda, who ris eported to be sick. Her parents tell the doctor that she has had a fever for a few days, and no one understands the illness’s cause. The doctor suspects that the girl could have diphtheria, as he is aware of other children from the same school having it. To confirm the diagnosis, he needs to examine her throat. Mathilda sees the physician as an enemy and refuses to open her mouth and behaves violently against him, and the doctor has no choice but to force her to do so (Williams). As a result of the fight, the diagnosis is confirmed, and the doctor begins her treatment.
The story’s central theme is philosophical, and it is presented from a controversial side to make a reader think of its non-obviousness. Generally, force and violence are perceived as harmful, wrong, and punishable. However, the kind of power the doctor uses over Mathilda is to improve her health and this raises numerous philosophical questions. The physician deployed a ‘legitimate’ force that cannot be consideres wickedness. He acted in her favor and aimed to help to treat her. Moreover, the parents called the doctor and asked for help; thus, his actions were carried out with their consent.
As was discussed above, the story’s central drama focuses on the use of ‘illegal versus legal’ force. In William’s story, the philosophical question was raised whether it is the right thing to do even when a person wishes best when performing those actions. George Polti, in his “36 Dramatic Situations,” categorizes dramatic situations that usually occur in literature and theater. The drama of William’s story is one of the 36 described by Polti. The conflict can be compared to situation 31 – “Conflict with a God” (Polti 10). The situation refers to a battle between a Mortal and a God and an inner conflict or fight with beliefs. The drama in “The Use of Force” is about a deep conflict in the mind of the doctor. He doubts his decisions as he runs into an emotional battle with himself. Even though he is a professional, he is insecure in his actions due to inner conflict.
In conclusion, the essay aimed to present a thematic analysis of the short story “The Use of Force” by Williams and compare the drama of the plot with the categorization of Polti in “36 Dramatic Situations”. Moreover, in conclusion, it should be stated that the story’s drama intersects with the current situation in the US, as Williams refers to the topic of justifiable violence. The death of George Floyd and the public response to it are largely isated to the theme of justified force. Within the state, it is especially important to determine what kind of ‘legal violence’ can be used by authorities. The application of force and legal power are the big and vital questions for society. Failing to answer them might lead to disastrous events like those the American society faces today.
Polti, George. 36 Dramatic Situations. Book Jungle, 2007.
Williams, William. “The Use of Force”. Stanford, 2020. Web.