In Northanger Abby by Jane Austen, she provides different types of female characters in her novel. Many times authors in the 1800s just offered two types; the maternal figure and the gossiping socialite. Very few portrayed a female character as the heroine. While Austen includes the maternal and gossiping socialite characters, she makes the main character and the hero of the novel a woman. The main character, Catherine, is described as “noisy and wild, hated confinement and cleanliness, and loved nothing so more in the world as rolling down the green slope at the back of the house” when she is young. Catherine is outdoorsy and would rather actively and physically play outside opposed to staying inside and be quiet and feminine. Not many female characters are shown in this active, boyish role. By portraying Catherine in this boyish light Austen is helping to develop another role for woman in literature. Catherine acted this way until 15 and by the time she was 17, she did become interested in her looks and attention from men. An example of her more stereotypical feminine behavior is when she goes to Bath for the first time and she waits around hoping someone will ask her to dance. When no one does she is disappointed, but she quickly becomes happy again when she over hears two men say she is pretty. This illustrates another side to Catherine and adds depth while also demonstrating woman characters can be both vain and tomboyish. Another character that is different than her typical role is Catherine’s mother. Mrs. Morland, her mother, is a maternal figure who must be protective and care about her child. But it is implied that Mrs. Morland does not mind that Catherine is leaving for Bath through the tone of the narrator. This causes her to break away from the traditional maternal character. This does not mean that Catherine’s mother cares about her less, but maybe that she trusts her daughter and the Allen’s to take care of her daughter more than most mothers.
In Hobbes Leviathan, he discusses his philosophy on politics. He believes that one person should have total control to best protect the people. Hobbes states the sovereign “that is to govern a whole nation, must read in himself, not this, or that particular man; but mankind” (8). He is saying that the leader must understand not just one type of person, but all people. To be a good ruler, the sovereign power must understand everyone’s perspective. I agree with Hobbes on this point, but I think it is impractical. If a leader understood everyone, then he or she could be a great ruler, but they could also take advantage of the situation very easily. A ruler with total power and an understanding of why everyone acts the way they do could manipulate people for their own benefit. This type of government has the potential to become a tyranny depending on who the ruler is. Another flaw in Hobbes idea is no one can understand every single type of person. People are very complicated and have many motives to do one simple task. It would be very difficult to understand why one person acts the way they do. Psychologists studying people for years and still do not understand why their subject behaves a certain way. It would be nearly impossible for a ruler to understand every single person under their rule. Also, it is difficult to please everyone. The best type of government and laws, in my opinion, have compromises to help majority of the people. It would be difficult to make a law that encompasses every citizen’s perspective. And while a ruler who knows what everyone wants would make the best compromises, I do not believe it is worth the risk of tyranny to give one person total power in the hopes of generating an amazing ruler.
In Republic by Plato, the main character, Socrates, discusses a theoretical city to demonstrate justice and injustice within a community and people. The town he imagines is unethical. Socrates talks about a city without free will, where people are born into their class and career with no ability to change their situation. Only the guardians, the military, are allowed to move up to the leader position, but they cannot chose to be the ruler. Someone else decides who is the leader, and that catch is the leader must not want to rule. Thus, the set up of this government forces its subjects to do what they do not want and follow the rules instead of doing things for their own happiness. Socrates says citizens must be loyal to make sure his town is the best town. He believes the way to make people loyal is to demonstrate how people are suppose to act through limited and altered literature and music, as well as children’s playground games. Socrates believes literature must be changed to exclude parts where the hero or gods do something he deems as inappropriate behavior. He is trying to create a perfect city, an utopia, but this is impossible. Utopia means that it cannot be man made, and therefore, anytime someone tries to make a perfect place, it turns into a dystopia. Socrates has good intentions and believes “our city, if indeed it has been correctly founded, is completely good.” The foundation of the city, how the people are forced to live, is not “good.” People are stuck in their social class and denied the basic right to make decisions for themselves.