Arthur Koestlers Darkness at Noon

Published: 2018-12-27 15:32:50
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Protagonist and a former commissar of the communist party in Russia

Rubashov, who is a protagonist and a former commissar of the communist party in Russia, plays a significant role in the novel because he paints a clear picture of the rotten Stalin world's views as well as the whole system. He is arrested and prosecuted under forced confessions on attempted crime of treason. The character shows us the cause of massive deaths in existing political systems that leave the death of many leaders especially those in opposition, for example, he accounts for the deaths of Richard, who was killed by Gestapo, Arlova his secretary, and Loewy a Belgian national. The hanging picture and the interrogation mechanism leave Rubashov terrified (Gibson 1380). For instance, Rubashov goes through a horrific experience while in jail "a dark cell." It is critical to note that the author tries to create a chilling image about the misery of innocent victims in the hands of cruel police officers who propagates the ideas of a dictatorial regime. 

Additionally, Ivanov, who is an interrogator of Rubashov is sympathetic and decides to lock away Rubashov for twenty years instead of facing death execution. The favor decision never comes to pass as Ivanov is betrayed, taken into custody and replaced by Gletvik. The little reason behind his arrest is the alleged misconduct while handling the case of Rubashov. It is significant to note that an individual working for this kind of regime is turned against the public and imprisoned. It also shows the mistrust and unexpected events that one cannot predict as a secret police. The Stalin system is a faulty system that turns against its people, depriving them all the freedom and sovereignty. 

The aim of any interrogator is to find out the truth through confession. The mechanism to extract information from a suspect is either voluntary or coercive. In the context of Ivanov and Gletkin, they differ significantly on the process of getting the objective truth. According to Ivanov, providing a suspect with what he or she requires in the cell such as cigarettes and giving them a chance to be free triggers voluntary confession. Contrary, Gletkin is not convinced with his partner's rationale to obtain the objective truth. According to Gletkin, it is necessary to use force, induce both mental and physical pain to get the truth. It is a "Neanderthal" means that involves the use of force to get what you want.  Ivanov employs the "old guard" technique that entails the use of mind game to aim for objective truth (Gale15).  However, according to Gletkin, objective truth does not matter as long as one can achieve the set goal. In the whole novel, members of the communist party are not afraid to backstab their colleagues as long as it is to the right of the communist party. For instance, Rubashov remembers his past and his deeds against Arlova and Richard. He feels responsible for their death. It is satisfactory to say that what comes around goes back around because Rubashov is in a similar mess as his former victims.

What was wrong in the communist society

The title of the book, "Darkness at Noon" depicts that something was wrong in the communist society. The communist had developed a structure that only believes in the end results to justify one's course of action. The individuals had to be executed for the good of society. For instance, Rubashov came under death sentence under forced confessions that led to one of the prison mate killed by Gletkin. The story in the novel revolves around political turmoil of 20th century. It shades light on topics of morality, philosophy, and justice in today's political systems around the globe (Markey-Towler 204). The choice of characters is well crafted to unravel the evil and atrocities committed by the ruling parties against the revolutionary ideologists and other activists. Although Arthur's interest was to demonstrate the social justice system in a rigid government regime, it is disturbing to find out how dictatorship regimes disguise their evil doing before the public by executing a few vulnerable individuals.  According to Rubashov, the end justifies the means in a totalitarian system (Kattago, 213). The cruelty against those who do not accord to their ideas is warranted using all crooked means to make them socially appealing before the face of the society. Also, morality is a result of rational thinking, psychological, individual and societal mainstreams, but in the scenario of Communist party, objectivity is the priority despite the individual and societal desires. Hence, the party objective surpasses social role ascribed to the party by the public. Rubashov unfolding events since his arrest up to his demise are a perfect indication of political philosophy and awkward Stalinist policy that tries to get away with its evil through justification. 

Rubashov and Ivanov, former classmates, act as scapegoats for political gain and survival. They were both declared as enemies of the state and executed for no reason. Just like the old Floydor and Bolshevik, they faced the same death penalty due to a false allegation of treason by Stalin. Gletkin propagates the cruelty of the regime. He believes maintaining law and order is through instilling fear and pain to shun away bad behaviors that might undermine the continuity of the ruling party. Besides the reckless arrest and sentencing of individuals, Rubashov experience leads to self-execution thoughts; it is, therefore, valid to argue that, whoever is in power today, the future holds the jury for execution due to the past deeds. Stalin is not comfortable having a strong opposition; therefore he employs the communist machine to eliminate every opposition force that does not support him. He fears being overthrown by the opposition to lose the state power and authority. 

The comparison of Ivanov and Gletkin leads to intellectual competition. Ivanov belongs to the old generation just like Rubashov while Gletkin belongs to a new breed of a generation that has once grown after the revolution period. Ivanov belief was that Rubashov did not commit the crimes accused of him by the Communist party, but in an attempt to get a confession, he told Rubashov that deviation was a crime itself hence actions such as murder and wrecking are frequently made up again and again. On the other hand, Gletkin attitude is contrary to that of Ivanov because he fails to find a demarcation line between innocence and guilt. He is concerned only by the end results, that is, pleading guilty. Gletkin lacks the knowledge of imagination to arrive at conclusions making him ruthless in handling the interrogation cases.

The confession of Rubashov

The confession of Rubashov is also implying that he has nothing to lose because he has undergone extreme torture at the hands of interrogators as well as isolation from the real world, friends, and family. It is a feeling of emptiness that drives him to that decision. For instance, Rubashov says that for what is he fighting? (Koestler & Daphne 37), Is it the pain as a result of torture or the falsified crimes? However, in the middle of emptiness, he admits that the situation he is in is as a result of his actions.  It is, therefore, presumably that Stalin will face the same horrific trials in future.

The novel,"Darkness at Noon," develops the insights of political temperature during the reign of Joseph Stalin in Russia. It is still relevant and applicable today where leaders in the 21st century are executed by ruling parties to cover up the core evil acts.  Justification of government's malicious maneuvers always has a back door benefit it. Every event happening has a reason that an ordinary citizen cannot comprehend to get the objective truth. More so, the victims such as Rubashov, Ivanov, and Richard lead to a self-reflection on one's course of actions. Everybody is held responsible for his or her acts despite giving justification to them. The rise of dictatorship states deprives its citizen's freedom; it also escalates the political temperatures that might cause a break of civil that can last for decades without arriving at an amicable solution. Alternatively, the fall of any dictatorial regime can cause bloodshed and extrajudicial killings of activists before attaining a democratic state. It is also necessary to develop a reliable judicial system that allows appealing to cases of falsely accused person. Having a lawyer might help to avoid injustice court decisions on innocent people. A united people are strong in fighting such historical injustice super powers to prevent misuse of public office, authority, and power. Democracy and transparency are the only way to avoid dangerous regimes such as Stalin's era in Russia.

Works Cited

Gale, Cengage L. Study Guide for Arthur Koestler's "darkness at Noon.". Detroit: Gale, Cengage Learning, n.d.. Print.

Gibson, Prudence. "Gestures of testimony: torture, trauma, and affect in literature." (2016): 1373-1376.

Kattago, Siobhan. "The Anxiety of Influence: Modernism and Totalitarianism." The European Legacy 22.2 (2017): 210-214.

Koestler, Arthur, and Daphne Hardy. Darkness at Noon. London: J. Cape, 1940. Internet resource.

Markey-Towler, Brendan. "I, Roboticus Oeconomicus The philosophy of mind in economics, and why it matters." Cambridge Journal of Economics 41.1 (2017): 203-237.

 

 

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