Joselyne It is natural for a person to

Joselyne Sanchez

Mr. Wade

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W131 P3

15 December 2017

of Power

            In the film A Few
Good Men, two marine soldiers are convicted of murder. This film shows how
the colonel is abusing his authoritative power by making his soldiers follow an
order that he made that was not equal towards all the soldiers. In the Stanford
and Milgram experiment both of these experiments show obedience to authority.
In these experiments the people who hold “power” towards everyone else, abuse
their power by making the subjects do things that are not right. In human
nature, it is natural for people to think what is good and what is not good to
do. It is natural for a person to think that there is no way they would do a
certain thing, but they never know that for sure until they are put in that
position. Throughout this film and experiments, it is shown that people would
follow such orders from someone superior amongst them and tend to continue
following those orders even by knowing that it may not be the right thing to

             In the film A Few Good Men, the movie shows how an
authoritative figure can abuse their power by making a cruel order that will
eventually have to be done. In the film, two marine soldiers are given an order
to kill another solider that happens to be in the same group section. The
soldier that was killed, Santiago was a marine soldier who had serious health
issues. Santiago was not given the proper medical attention that was supposed
to be offered. Therefore, Santiago wrote several letter on how he was being
mistreated and was continuously not treated fairly. The colonel of that unit is
named Colonel Jessup. Jessup does end up reading the letters that Santiago had
written. Jessup is not happy about Santiago’s situation and written letters. He
considers Santiago a weak coward because he could not handle the tough
conditioning of that certain unit. Colonel Jessup ordered two of his soldiers
to go punish Santiago for his bad behavior. Colonel Jessup abuses his power by
making the two soldiers validate a code that everyone should follow. Both of
these soldiers obeyed Jessup’s orders without any question. These two soldiers
clearly know the rule, to always fight and protect their brothers and sisters
in the marines. Both soldiers show the lens of following orders from someone
superior amongst them, even though they know it is completely wrong to do that
certain order. Both soldiers did not hesitate to question their commander on
what they were supposed to do. Since Jessup is their colonel, he clearly has complete
power over the two marines. The marines as well knew that it is very
disrespectful to not follow orders from your head commander. If the two
soldiers were to disobey orders, they would have a high risk of being punished.
Now, since Colonel Jessup has power of these two men, it is clear to them that
he was given that job for a reason. It could be because he has been there long
enough and knows exactly what he is doing. The two men do not have a huge role
in what they do. They are the ones who follow order and do what is right for
the country. This film shows how someone with authoritative power can lead to
having abusive power. Even though they order people to do the wrong thing,
people still manage to follow those orders due to his position. Even when given
an order that is completely wrong, the order is still done, due to obeying a
person that shows more skill and professional work.

            In the Stanford Prison Experiment, college male students
were picked out for a psychological study of prison life. Overall, twenty one
college male students were chosen. These students were evenly divided in half
into two sections, half prisoners and half guards. This experiment was supposed
to last up to two weeks but was eventually cut short due to how intense the
experiment was going. In this experiment, the people who were doing the
experiment were given the choice on how they would act. The guards were given
complete authority that they could do whatever they wanted to the cell inmates
because they are the ones in charge since they are the guards and not the
prisoners. Now, typically in a real life situation, prisoners are supposed to
follow orders from the officer. If they refuse, they are often punished for it.
In the beginning of this experiment the guards were not harsh but did make
certain rules for the prisoners. The subjects first took it as a joke and
played along with it. Throughout this experiment the guards took their roles
very seriously and ended up getting into their own heads. The guards would make
the prisoners do humiliating things such as stripping and doing inappropriate
sexual gesture to one another. Since this was just an experiment, the prisoners
had every right to walk out of the experiment, but they eventually get into
their own heads by thinking that this experiment was not an experiment after
all, it was possibly real. A few of the prisoners ended up having severe mental
break downs and had to drop the experiment because they could not deal with the
cruel punishments and treatment much longer. The professors who organized this
experiment had to eventually stop on the sixth day due to possibly getting sued
by the subjects and the increasingly cruel management of the guards. In this
experiment the guards are clearly the ones who have the authoritative power
towards the inmates. The guards would make the inmates do humiliating things. The
inmates eventually grew hesitant into following orders because they felt that
it was so real. The inmates got into their own heads and followed orders as is
from the guards, just so they would not get punished with cruelty and
humiliation. This experiment shows how a person can let themselves get order to
do humiliating things by an authoritative figure. Many of the students who
played the role of an inmate, let themselves get humiliated because they knew
they had to follow order from their head commanders. These guards abuse their
power by maltreating the prisoners, even when they did nothing wrong. The
inmates continuously kept following orders due to the fear of being treated
even worse than what they already were. 

            In the Milgram
Experiment, several people volunteered to do an experiment that involved
using a high voltage machine. The subjects doing the experiment were given
orders by an authoritative doctor. Many of the people ended up following all of
the orders that the doctor had given them. The higher the people would go on
the voltage, they ended up growing more hesitant towards going further with the
experiment. Since there was a doctor giving orders, it gives the test subjects
an idea that he is professional and knows what he is doing. Once the doctor
kept giving the subjects demands, they would hear yells from the person getting
shocked. The test subjects knew that they were not doing a painless experiment
and knew that they would continue hurting a person if they kept moving forward.
The person that was getting shocked mentions that he had a heart condition and
did not want to continue the experiment. This gave the subjects the knowledge
of knowing that the person getting shocked was not in the best conditions. Even
though the person kept asking to be removed the people doing the shocking kept
looking back at the doctor to see what to do next. Most of the people would
have continued to go to the most dangerous shock that could possibly lead to
death. This experiment shows how someone could continue following orders even
by knowing they are causing pain to someone else. The role of the doctor gave
the subject a clear view that he was a reliable person and was knowledgeable of
others well beings.

            Throughout the film, A
Few Good Men, and the Stanford Prison,
and Milgram’s Experiments, it was
shown how an authoritative figure can lead people to doing things they do not
want to do but they still end up doing. All of these experiments show the same
similarity towards one another. Both of these experiments and the film have a
superior figure that is in complete control towards others. All of the subjects
that are in involved in the experiment and film, they end up following orders
even though they know are not entirely fair. Humans tend to think that there
are certain limits where they think they would not go that far, but while in a
certain situation, they do end up doing the opposite of what they thought they
would do. Many thing get into people’s heads, and makes them think that they
are doing the right thing, even though they know it is clearly not entirely
right to do. In the film and both of the experiment, they show how people tend
to follow orders from someone that is superior to them, even by knowing that it
may not be the right thing they are doing.
















Work Cited

A Few Good Men. Rob Reiner. Tom Cruise, Jack Nicholson,
Demi Moore, Columbia Pictures. 1992. Film

McLeod, Saul. et al. “The Milgram Experiment.” Writing
and Reading Across the Curriculum, Thirteenth ed., Pearson, Boston, MA,
2016, pp. 583-590.

Zimbardo, Philip G. et al. “The Stanford Prison Experiment..”
Writing and Reading Across the Curriculum , Thirteenth ed., Pearson,
Boston, MA, 2016, pp. 389-400



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