short essay 1 - Timmy Matthews March 6 2007 English 131...

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Timmy Matthews March 6, 2007 English 131 Short Essay #1 The Irony of a Devout Death When only one man believes in something so deeply it is often hard for him to escape from the passion which draws him in. In Franz Kafka’s In the Penal Colony the ironic and appropriate death of an officer is a result of his love and devotion for an old world barbaric torture device, which he himself takes great pride in operating. The device itself has long been used in the colony and the coming of a new Commandant leads to the eventual conclusion of the machines use. The colony’s brutal form of justice evolves with the coming of a new Commandant and it seems like the only person holding onto the old ideals is the officer. However, the arrival of the explorer and his intention of denouncing the machine lead to the officers and the machines termination. Francis Bacon says that “men become attached to certain particular sciences and speculations, either because they fancy themselves the authors and inventors thereof, or because they have bestowed the greatest pains upon them and become most habituated to them” (Bacon LIV). The officer himself says that the machine “…no longer [has] any adherents in our colony. I am its sole advocate…”(Kafka 208). The officer is the only one who holds onto the ideals of old times. The new Commandant seems to have brought a new conscience along with his new reign at the colony. The people of the colony don’t even attend the executions anymore. When the old Commandant was in power “… hundreds of spectators [stood on] tiptoe as far as the heights” (209). This loss of tradition seems to have brought a new sense of life to the colony.
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When the explorer asked what the condemned was sentenced for, the answer he received was disobedience. All because he didn’t salute the new Commandant on his hourly watch and was found sleeping at his post. The prisoner didn’t even know he was
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This note was uploaded on 04/25/2008 for the course ENGLISH 131 taught by Professor Peggyo'brien during the Spring '08 term at UMass (Amherst).

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short essay 1 - Timmy Matthews March 6 2007 English 131...

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