The Malefactor

The Portrayal of Power in Anton Chekhov’s Selected Stories and Heinrich Böll’s The Lost Honour of Katharina Blum 12th Grade

We often attribute power, when not wielded properly, to destruction and downfall. The concept of power plays an essential role in both Heinrich Böll’s The Lost Honour of Katharina Blum and Anton Chekhov’s Selected Stories, but each author portrays the idea in different light. There is contrast between the satirical and light-hearted approach to 19th century Russian society’s perception of power, depicted through Chekhov’s stories, and the serious tone compounded with heavy irony and sarcasm employed by Böll to criticise his characters’ abuse of institutional power and power of authority in post-World War II Germany.

In The Lost Honour of Katharina Blum, the excessive power of the German yellow press is directly responsible for the demoralisation and ruin of the novel’s protagonist. “…the News had transformed his statement that Katharina was intelligent, cool and level-headed into ‘ice-cold and calculating.’” Words and statements are intentionally manipulated by the newspaper to generate controversy, and the story is maliciously blown out of proportion into a full-fledged “conspiracy.” Böll once stated that “words can be more destructive than punches and pistols.” This is indeed the case as Katharina’s entire life is utterly...

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