My paper will discuss how fear is used to manipulate others. I will support my topic using ideas taken from The Color Purple and Lord of the Flies. Fear is a natural emotion in humans that occurs when a person feels threatened; when he feels that he must be saved from something or someone. Fear is a protection system in our mind that we use for self-defense and survival. In fact, our body is always prepared for any threatening and unknown situation that makes an attempt on our lives, and the body can responds with anxiety to be prepared to fight and survive. This is a natural action in human beings.
However, some psychologically sick people are afraid in too many circumstances, because of insecurity, shyness, low self esteem, etc. This case is very different to the normal fear because people with this kind of fear may not feel happy with what they have; they may not accept their lives or are not capable enough to live their lives without depending on someone else. People with this problem usually use it as a means of blackmail to manipulate other people with violence, excuses and lies.
As I saw in the books I have read there are examples of this kind of fear, and why these people feel fear. For example, in Lord of the Flies, Ralph is a boy who does not know anything about life. At the beginning he is the leader of the boys and he feels confident. However, this sense of security changes because of Jack, another boy who thinks he is superior to the others and manipulates them to be independent from Ralph and dependent on him. This decision is tragic because it causes the death of some of the boys. Ralph then realizes that Jack and other boys are not acting with sanity. The boys are affected mentally by the need of survive and by the fear of death. Fear is a protection, but sometimes people use fear in a good way and sometimes it is used in a bad way. Jack manipulates the boys to show them that the island is not dangerous, but rather is fun. However, Jack is really feeling fear and he does not want to accept this reality. He wants to see the island as something that can be overcome, so his feeling of impotence is what makes the others act in the same way, not accepting their reality.
Aggressive people who fear are usually those who need psychological help. For instance, in The Color Purple violence is evident because many of the characters act according to their negative impulses, they fear losing something they have or not getting something they want. Albert, Celie’s husband, beats his wife because he fears abandonment; he fears not knowing what to do with all his children, because he is a man who is dependent on Celie. In fact, when Nettie, Celie’ sister, arrives at Albert’s home to see her sister, Albert’s behavior is different, like showing that he really wants to Celie. Albert starts to tell Celie in different way; he does not beat her like at the beginning because he wants to show Nettie he is a really good man.
In this couple there is someone who is not comfortable with the relation and always is more fearful. This person always is angry, often mistreating his companion, blackmailing her, beating her and trying to make her feel pity for him with the purpose of not being abandoned. People who are so dependent on another are people without morals, without values, without self love. Also it influences the past of this person, because a person with serious problems is a person who had a very difficult childhood, so it can have a lot of influence in the reactions of the person who feel fear. Maybe this person is afraid to suffer, that is why Albert, in The Color Purple, and Jack, in the Lord of the Flies, they act according their instincts, showing their self pain and fear in other persons, making them feel what they feel, full of rancor, hate and fear.
Piggy, in the Lord of the Flies expresses his fear to Ralph in a different way: “When you’re your dad rescue us? How does he know we are here? Did not you hear what the pilot said? About the atom bomb? They are all dead. This is an island, is not it? They are dead. This is an island and nobody does not know we are here. Your dad does not know, nobody does not know. We may stay here till we die” (pg.7-8). In this quote Piggy is trying to convince Ralph that they are totally alone in a unknown place, Piggy is afraid of what can happen and he thinks if he convinces his comrade, both can look for a solution and solve the problem. In other words, Piggy is trying to transmit the same fear he feels to Ralph and not to be the only person feeling that sensation of anxiety.
Nettie, in The Color Purple, is different, she takes her anxiety to God: “Oh Celie, unbelief is a terrible thing. And so is the hurt we cause others unknowingly. Pray for us.” (Part 4, pg.169). Nettie thinks God is the only being able to solve her problems, she fears that if she does not believe in God she will never find a solution. She tries to convince Celie that she also must believe in God to solve her tragic situation. However, there are cases when we, as imperfect beings, we lose hope and we have anxiety about starting again, about trusting other people, and about failing. We start to lose trust on things that have had significance in our life, like what happens to Celie: “Yeah, I say, and he gives me a lynched daddy, a crazy mama, a lowdown dog of a step pa and a sister I probably won’t ever see again. Anyhow, I say, the God I been praying and writing to is a man. And act just like all the other men I know. Trifling, forgetful and lowdown.” (Part 4, pg. 175). Because she thinks God must be a man and that is why God can not understand her.
I think manipulated people are neither sure about their personality, manipulated people do not have a will on their own. This kind of person feels threatened by other people, he feels guilt, he is like a slave, and he is not able to decide what to do with his life, or fight for his ideals. This is the way the manipulator has more opportunities to take advantage of the situation: “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” -Celie. Celie, for example is manipulated by her husband, and as we can see, she is totally submissive to Albert. She, a manipulated person, does not have strong enough values to change her life and decide by herself. If she were different, Albert, her husband, would not have these opportunities to make her insignificant: “I don’t say anything. I think about Nettie, dead. She fights, she run away. What good it do? I don’t fight; I stay where I’m told. But I’m alive.” (Part 1, pg. 29). She says she is only alive because of Nettie, her sister, who is the person who shows more fortress and security a difference to her.
The same happens in Lord of the Flies, when Jack is the manipulator and boys are being manipulated. They do not know the danger in which they are living, because they do not have awareness of their reality, so they cannot take the responsibility for themselves. In other words, they are not capable of realizing that they do not have the power to make a decision, nor does Jack. Children are easily manipulated because they are persons who believe in a different world where all is funny and where they can see danger as a game. The youngest have nightmares, but at the moment of knowing that the island is a place where they can hunt and have fun, they forget their fears, they feel safe with Jack, who thinks is taking advantage of Ralph. When a person uses fear to manipulate others is because this person has a specific objective, the manipulator always wants to make others feel he has the reason; he makes them feel guilty and in this way the manipulator is seen like an innocent person.
Lord of the Flies makes a lot of differences between the good relationships and the competition. I think Ralph expresses his fear differently from Jack. Jack wants to be the boss, he has to manipulate children because he knows in this form Ralph will not be able to be the leader, nobody is going to listen to him. Ralph is a calm boy who also feels the fear, however his serenity makes him think like an adult person: “Been working for days now. And look! Tow shelters are in position, but shaky. This one was ruin. And they keep running off. You remember the meeting? How everyone was going to work hard until the shelters were finished? All day I’ve been working with Simon. No one else. They are off bathing, or eating, or playing.”(pg. 41).
Both are defending their reason, but, who manipulates whom? Both are being manipulated, because, Jack knows they need a place where to live, in the other side, Ralph knows they need something to eat: “-We want meat- said Jack. -Well, we haven’t got any yet. And we want shelters- said Ralph”. Jack’s obsession to obtain meat is so strong because he is afraid to die, if they do not have anything to eat they will die. However, Ralph is afraid because if they do not have any place where to live, they will die for cold, for a dangerous animal, etc.
In The Color Purple Celie and her husband, Albert, each depend on the other, because Albert can not live without a woman who supports his life, who cares for his children and makes the food. Celie, on the other hand, is a woman who depends on a man to give her a house, food, and support despite the fact that Albert mistreats her, and she is afraid of him, afraid of being beaten. This is similar to Lord of the Flies, because both are manipulated by each other, Celie who is frightened of him and also Alberto who is frightened of being abandoned by her.
In conclusion people usually use fear as a protection, to take advantage of others, the manipulator is an egoist person who only thinks on himself, in what he wants for him, and he does not care to hurt others. I think a person who is not sure of himself has mental problems and it is really difficult to change. This person starts to develop his imagination caused by fear, like Ralph, in the Lord of the Flies: “Maybe there is a beast….maybe it’s only us”(Cap.5). So I think a person who has a really serious problem of fear must try to get confidence and feel sure about himself and his situation. As we can see in the books, both are examples of temerity, fear, egoism, rancor, manipulation and principally how some persons have the ability to use their fear like an advantage and can use others like their slaves, or simply like a dependent of the manipulator.