Joselyne SanchezMr. WadeW131 P315 December 2017Abuseof Power In the film A FewGood Men, two marine soldiers are convicted of murder. This film shows howthe colonel is abusing his authoritative power by making his soldiers follow anorder that he made that was not equal towards all the soldiers. In the Stanfordand Milgram experiment both of these experiments show obedience to authority.
In these experiments the people who hold “power” towards everyone else, abusetheir power by making the subjects do things that are not right. In humannature, it is natural for people to think what is good and what is not good todo. It is natural for a person to think that there is no way they would do acertain thing, but they never know that for sure until they are put in thatposition. Throughout this film and experiments, it is shown that people wouldfollow such orders from someone superior amongst them and tend to continuefollowing those orders even by knowing that it may not be the right thing todo.
In the film A Few Good Men, the movie shows how anauthoritative figure can abuse their power by making a cruel order that willeventually have to be done. In the film, two marine soldiers are given an orderto kill another solider that happens to be in the same group section. Thesoldier that was killed, Santiago was a marine soldier who had serious healthissues. Santiago was not given the proper medical attention that was supposedto be offered. Therefore, Santiago wrote several letter on how he was beingmistreated and was continuously not treated fairly. The colonel of that unit isnamed Colonel Jessup. Jessup does end up reading the letters that Santiago hadwritten.
Jessup is not happy about Santiago’s situation and written letters. Heconsiders Santiago a weak coward because he could not handle the toughconditioning of that certain unit. Colonel Jessup ordered two of his soldiersto go punish Santiago for his bad behavior. Colonel Jessup abuses his power bymaking the two soldiers validate a code that everyone should follow. Both ofthese soldiers obeyed Jessup’s orders without any question. These two soldiersclearly know the rule, to always fight and protect their brothers and sistersin the marines.
Both soldiers show the lens of following orders from someonesuperior amongst them, even though they know it is completely wrong to do thatcertain order. Both soldiers did not hesitate to question their commander onwhat they were supposed to do. Since Jessup is their colonel, he clearly has completepower over the two marines. The marines as well knew that it is verydisrespectful to not follow orders from your head commander. If the twosoldiers 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 thathe was given that job for a reason. It could be because he has been there longenough and knows exactly what he is doing.
The two men do not have a huge rolein what they do. They are the ones who follow order and do what is right forthe country. This film shows how someone with authoritative power can lead tohaving 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 givenan order that is completely wrong, the order is still done, due to obeying aperson that shows more skill and professional work. In the Stanford Prison Experiment, college male studentswere picked out for a psychological study of prison life. Overall, twenty onecollege male students were chosen.
These students were evenly divided in halfinto two sections, half prisoners and half guards. This experiment was supposedto last up to two weeks but was eventually cut short due to how intense theexperiment was going. In this experiment, the people who were doing theexperiment were given the choice on how they would act. The guards were givencomplete authority that they could do whatever they wanted to the cell inmatesbecause they are the ones in charge since they are the guards and not theprisoners.
Now, typically in a real life situation, prisoners are supposed tofollow 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 makecertain rules for the prisoners. The subjects first took it as a joke andplayed along with it.
Throughout this experiment the guards took their rolesvery seriously and ended up getting into their own heads. The guards would makethe prisoners do humiliating things such as stripping and doing inappropriatesexual gesture to one another. Since this was just an experiment, the prisonershad every right to walk out of the experiment, but they eventually get intotheir own heads by thinking that this experiment was not an experiment afterall, it was possibly real. A few of the prisoners ended up having severe mentalbreak downs and had to drop the experiment because they could not deal with thecruel punishments and treatment much longer. The professors who organized thisexperiment had to eventually stop on the sixth day due to possibly getting suedby the subjects and the increasingly cruel management of the guards. In thisexperiment the guards are clearly the ones who have the authoritative powertowards the inmates. The guards would make the inmates do humiliating things. Theinmates eventually grew hesitant into following orders because they felt thatit was so real.
The inmates got into their own heads and followed orders as isfrom the guards, just so they would not get punished with cruelty andhumiliation. This experiment shows how a person can let themselves get order todo humiliating things by an authoritative figure. Many of the students whoplayed the role of an inmate, let themselves get humiliated because they knewthey had to follow order from their head commanders. These guards abuse theirpower by maltreating the prisoners, even when they did nothing wrong. Theinmates continuously kept following orders due to the fear of being treatedeven worse than what they already were. In the MilgramExperiment, several people volunteered to do an experiment that involvedusing a high voltage machine. The subjects doing the experiment were givenorders by an authoritative doctor. Many of the people ended up following all ofthe orders that the doctor had given them.
The higher the people would go onthe voltage, they ended up growing more hesitant towards going further with theexperiment. Since there was a doctor giving orders, it gives the test subjectsan idea that he is professional and knows what he is doing. Once the doctorkept giving the subjects demands, they would hear yells from the person gettingshocked. The test subjects knew that they were not doing a painless experimentand 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 anddid not want to continue the experiment.
This gave the subjects the knowledgeof knowing that the person getting shocked was not in the best conditions. Eventhough the person kept asking to be removed the people doing the shocking keptlooking back at the doctor to see what to do next. Most of the people wouldhave continued to go to the most dangerous shock that could possibly lead todeath. This experiment shows how someone could continue following orders evenby knowing they are causing pain to someone else. The role of the doctor gavethe subject a clear view that he was a reliable person and was knowledgeable ofothers well beings.
Throughout the film, AFew Good Men, and the Stanford Prison,and Milgram’s Experiments, it wasshown how an authoritative figure can lead people to doing things they do notwant to do but they still end up doing. All of these experiments show the samesimilarity towards one another. Both of these experiments and the film have asuperior figure that is in complete control towards others. All of the subjectsthat are in involved in the experiment and film, they end up following orderseven though they know are not entirely fair. Humans tend to think that thereare certain limits where they think they would not go that far, but while in acertain situation, they do end up doing the opposite of what they thought theywould do. Many thing get into people’s heads, and makes them think that theyare doing the right thing, even though they know it is clearly not entirelyright to do.
In the film and both of the experiment, they show how people tendto follow orders from someone that is superior to them, even by knowing that itmay not be the right thing they are doing. Work CitedA Few Good Men. Rob Reiner. Tom Cruise, Jack Nicholson,Demi Moore, Columbia Pictures. 1992. FilmMcLeod, Saul.
et al. “The Milgram Experiment.” Writingand 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