In order to effectively display a certain discontent with society, an author must have the ability to illustrate the specific flaws that exist within that mainstream society. In What the Butler Saw, Joe Orton does an excellent job in illustrating how abuse of authority can have a subversive effect on an individual’s personality. Throughout the play, Orton uses authority as a tool to illustrate how it has the ability to alter a patient’s personality and provoke madness through psychiatric practice. Regarding Sam Shepard’s True West, Shepard is able to illustrate the exchange of personality traits between two brothers. Comparatively, it is evident that both authors effectively display their discontent with mainstream society. However, Joe
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Rance and his examination of Geraldine. This examination is viewed to be unconventional since it ridicules proper psychiatric methods. Dr. Rance is convinced that Geraldine is a victim of incest prior to even examining her. He asks her if her father has ever sexually assaulted her, but Geraldine replies with a “No” (382). However, Dr. Rance refuses to acknowledge her responses and retorts by saying “She may mean ‘Yes’ when she says ‘No’” (382). As a result, Geraldine feels helpless in this situation since there is nothing Geraldine can say that will change his mind.
Orton uses this scene to illustrate how authority can be abused. In our society, a psychiatrist will listen to the patient and provide a response that will benefit the patient. Instead, Dr. Rance is portrayed as someone who interprets others words to fit his preconceived theories by asserting his authority over them, “The vehemence of her denials is proof of positive guilt” (382). Orton ridicules this psychiatric method as it leads neither to truth nor understanding. In addition, Joe Orton uses Dr. Prentice’s attempt at seduction as another example of authority abuse. When Geraldine comes into the psychiatric clinic to interview for the secretary position, she is oblivious to the upcoming events that will unfold. Dr. Prentice uses his position as a doctor and a potential employer to attempt to have sex with her. Under the pretense that he will conduct a medical examination, he asks