Conformity and Rebellion Essay

Being a visionary, Oscar Wilde in his book "The Soul of a Man under Socialism" comes up with a revolutionary statement: "Disobedience, in the eyes of anyone who has read history, is man's original virtue. It is through disobedience that progress has been made, through disobedience and through rebellion" (Wilde, 1891). This idea was considered revolutionary and controversial at the time of Oscar Wilde’s life and is considered provocative even now. It is easy to see why. Wilde speaks about disobedience, which was always an enemy of the ruling class as well as the enemy of the opinion leaders in all spheres of life. Some people say that this statement speaks out against the norms of society. Knowing the bright mindset which Oscar Wilde said, I doubt that he had an idea to bring chaos and destruction by making this statement. I am inclined to believe that the real intention that Oscar Wilde had in mind making this statement was to confront stagnation and conformity which were the two forces that always led civilizations and societies to inevitable doom. History proves the truth behind the message of his statement showing that very often rebellion was needed to transform stagnating societies. Just like a person can experience post-traumatic stress or post-traumatic growth after a very stressful or painful situation, so the entire societies can use rebellions as the means to grow or to decay. It depends on the mindset and level of wisdom that those who strive for transformation have. In the following parts of the essay the Martin King Jr.’s "Letter From Birmington Jail" and Amy Tan’s "Two Kinds" will be thoroughly analyzed in relation to the above-mentioned Wilde's statement.

These two stories were not taken by accident, as both of them have features of rebellion.  The main characters of these stories are in strong opposition to societal laws or traditions inherent in their cultures. The work of Martin King Jr. features him as the key character. He writes his letter from prison and addresses white priesthood, which criticized public demonstration led by King. His letter contains justification and explanation of the actions that he has taken as well as the explanation of black activist’s motivation. The main character of Amy Tan’s is the daughter of China’s emigrant. The girl strongly opposes the career choice made for her by her Chinese mother which creates a struggle between the two characters.



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