Influence refers to the ability to have a strong impact on others whereas power can eventually lead to chaos and madness. Individuals use their status to persuade, convince and control others for personal gains. In the short story by W. W. Jacobs, the monkey’s paw was used as an object to show the dangers of accepting a foreign object by an authoritative and trusted figure. Whereas in Stars Wars, the physical elements such as the lightsabers and powers of force were adapted by the Jedi, Sith, and other Force-adept’s clan to discuss the significance of good versus evil in human beings. In this essay, I will compare the different outcomes of the main characters and how both of their fate was altered due to social power, the influence of others, and objects used to appease others and themselves. In both the stories, each character had a different sequence of events as one was able to achieve success through influence whereas the others faced failure by trying to obtain power.
The Influence from an Authoritative Figures
Individuals who are influenced can easily change their lives depending on whose guidance they take. Leaders who inspire others have a higher success rate whereas leaders who use their power to show their dominance over others fail. From the beginning, we can see that Sergeant-Major Morris was a notable individual for The Whites’ family. His knowledge of the outside world held greater importance for Mr. White. ‘His manner was so impressive that his hearers were conscious that their light laughter jarred somewhat.’ (Jacobs, 1997) It’s human nature to want to possess something that the other has, and Sergeant-Major Morris took advantage of this opportunity to impress Mr. White into believing that the object he obtained was real. As Morris gives a warning “Better let it burn,” (Jacobs, 1997) he still does nothing to stop Mr. White from taking the object and even goes as far as explaining how to use it. Mr. White was content with he had, yet after hearing stories from his friend, who was considered a highly trusted individual, he had the urge to change the course of his life. He thought that the object would be a chance to fulfill his desires for once. “Power leaders seek to control and often abuse their influence.” (Kuhel, 2017) It is also important to note that Sergeant Morris was entirely in control of the situation. He used Mr. White’s weakness of wanting to travel aboard to exotic locations as a way to present this object. Had he not shown up and or presented this object at all, the outcome for this family would have been entirely different. This family had trusted this individual as they knew him for a long time, yet knowing that the object is dangerous he decided to get rid of it by tossing it on to someone else.
Anakin Skywalker, on the other hand, was a good-hearted hero of the clone wars in the beginning. He was considered to be one of the most powerful Jedi in the galaxy. He believed he was one of the ‘chosen ones’ and superior to everyone else (StarWars, n.d.) Sensing his anger and frustration on being challenged by the council, Supreme Chancellor Palpatine took advantage of his emotions and guided him to the dark side. ‘Influence is the application of power to accomplish a specific purpose’ (Bacon, 2019) Palpatine’s trust and mentorship to Anakin ultimately changed his dream about becoming a Jedi. In order to satisfy his revenge, Palpatine made Anakin believe that his powers would be much more useful and stronger if he trained and guided him. He would then be able to achieve anything he desired. Anakin was made to believe that he was stronger than everyone, and in his ego, he didn’t expect that this would ultimately lead to his death. It was evident in both the stories, there was a strong presence of an individual who was able to control and change one’s mindset to achieve personal gains through any means necessary.
The Inability to Control Your Life
Through these authoritative figures, objects were presented in both stories which had different alluring qualities that changed the characters’ fate. The Monkey’s Paw was used to represent the desire and greed in individuals whereas the Lightsabers exemplified bravery, righteousness, and power. Mr. White was described as a curious and naive individual who acted as if he was assertive and aware of the reality. Despite everything, when the events took place, he made himself believe that the object had taken control of his life. When Mr. White hears that the object has the ability to grant wishes, he laughed it off but couldn’t help but wonder at its magical capabilities. However, it was, in fact, Sergeant Morris who had the ability to make Mr. White believe in the unforeseeable. For example, when Sergeant-Major Morris throws the object into the fire, Mr. White quickly retrieves it, proving that whatever Sergeant Morris had said prior had an ability to control and dominate Mr. White with his words. Despite being warned of its potential dangers; Sergeant-Major Morris does nothing to stop the worse from happening. It’s eventually when Mr. White learns the truth, he has no choice but to live with the consequences and believe in the object.
The Lightsabers were powerful weapons used to create a distinction between groups and show one’s dominance over the other. ‘Anyone can use a blaster or a fusioncutter—but to use a lightsaber well as a mark of someone a cut above the ordinary.’ (Wookieepedia, n.d.) Kenobi shielded and kept his apprentice’s lightsaber before passing it down to Anakin’s son, Luke Skywalker. ‘The lightsaber also became synonymous with the Jedi Order’s values to uphold peace and justice throughout the galaxy.’ (Wookieepedia, n.d.) The acceptance of this sword paved way for Luke and Anakin differently as they both used this weapon to protect their clan and fight for dissimilar purposes. Luke would make use of the lightsaber, both as a Rebel freedom fighter and Jedi trainee, and protect his clan from the dangers whereas Anakin created havoc and destroyed everything in his path. The difference between both of these main characters was due to their mentees. One guided Luke to protect his loved ones and achieve better outcomes whereas the other was taught to take revenge and destroy anyone he detested. It wasn’t the objects that influenced these individuals, but it was their difference of views that made them believe in their leaders. Through guidance and leadership obtained from others determined how they would change their destiny.
Changing Attitudes through Persuasion
Although in The Monkey’s paw the object was made to seem like it had supernatural abilities, the omnipotent powers may have been misperceived and overlooked by Mr. White. Connecting the death and return of his son to the object could have merely just been his difficulty in accepting his reality. His coping mechanism might have influenced him to accuse an object in order to take away the blame from himself. What Sergeant Morris said about this object affirmed his beliefs and made him accept that the events taking place were real. However, the object, in reality, may not have had any supernatural abilities at all. ‘Your thoughts are powerful and they frame the triumphs or tragedies of your life.’ (Sanders, 2014) Sergeant Morris and the previous owner have had their wishes granted. However, these stories may have been Morris’s attempt at creating fabricated lies that would get Mr. White’s attention and make him seem superior. Evidently, the six wishes that were granted on the previous owners all could have been attributed to mere coincidence, but as readers, we can only believe in what Morris has to say. ‘Common sense and reason tell us that there is no such thing as an object that has the power to grant wishes.'(Delaney, n.d.) It is just something we would like to believe or become influenced by as it is much to find such objects that have the ability to change your life.
Similarly, in Star Wars, Anakin Skywalker’s weakness was his inability to protect those he loved the most. Palpatine used this fear of losing Padme and leveraged a suggestion into taking his side. His indecisiveness of showing his loyalty as a Jedi altered as he was constantly battling with his own identity. He felt as though he did not belong in the council and felt abandoned when others were chosen over him. The events that took place prior such as the murder of his mother and the killing of Jedi trainees would have altered his perception about those who were trying to help him. ‘Star Wars fan would recognize Skywalker’s identity issues and uncertainty about who he was. His fateful turn to the dark side and change of name to Darth Vader could represent the ultimate sign of such identity disturbance.'(Hsu, 2010) Sergeant Morris and Palpatine seized the opportunity to get Mr. White and Skywalker to follow in their direction and manipulated them. One was told to carry out the acts that would benefit himself whereas the other projected his views onto someone else knowing that such weak-minded individuals would obey and trust in his beliefs.
Social influence refers to the way in which individuals change their ideas and actions to meet the demand of an authoritative figure or a group that holds exercises influence over the majority. The power of social influence can shape one’s opinion, belief, and behavior. Some individuals are manipulated and used for other purposes to meet their goals and demands that they cannot conquer alone. Objects alone cannot influence individuals, but how they think and perceive information can ultimately affect the choices they make in the end.