An analysis of the Milgram Experiment
A study conducted by Stanley Milgram at Yale University, during the 1960’s. Individuals who participated in this study were told the purpose of the experiment was to see the implications of punishment for human learning. In reality, Milgram was testing how far an individual’s obedience would go under the direction of an authority figure. This study was created in relation to a Nazi’s statement, that he was “just following orders” (Nazi Adolf Eichmann). The experiment was conducted by student psychologists under Milgram. The individual being tested was to apply a series of different frequency electroshocks to another individual. The individual being tested was to read a series of word pairs to one of the experimenters who was not in the room (the experimenter was not really getting shocked they were faking it) and if they were to get the order wrong they would receive another round of shocks by the individual being tested. The experimenter receiving the “electro-shocks” was to pretend to be in pain after a series of higher frequency shocks. Although some participants were hesitant at hearing the fake screams of pain from the “shocked” (person receiving shocks), the study results showed that a large percentage of individuals tested kept giving the “shockee” higher frequency shocks when encouraged by the experimenter. Furthermore, an article written by Adam Sherwin (Famous Milgram 'electric shocks' experiment drew wrong conclusions about evil, say, psychologists,) wrote that people responded to authority more when they believed that their actions were contributing to something bigger than themselves: in this case we can consider it to be the scientific community or more specifically the psychological community. Just as Adolf Hitler made the masses believe that sacrificing innocent lives was for the greater good of nations. I think when the results of this experiment came out it had to have shocked various people. The individuals in this experiment were randomly chosen and promised money for their contribution to the study. People who easily, without contest, follow direction to harm another person. An individual in the study, who was hesitantly upping the frequency of the electroshocks, asked if the person on the other side of the wall were to be harmed in any way to make sure they were not held responsible. The experimenter assured the individual that they would ensure that the study was responsible for anything that happened during the duration of the study. This proved enough for the individual to continue with the experiment (to keep harming another person). This implicates society in that these types of people, who follow directions from anyone who displays an authoritarian personality, can be easily swayed by any overpowering individual (a Hitler complex). We need stronger-minded people in the world to keep what happened many years ago from happening again. It's so easy to say “I was told to do it.” or “It's not my fault, ______ told me to do it.” You can easily wipe away your guilt and your accountability for the action. Let’s focus on Miami. Miami as a whole is primarily composed of people who are or are by descent part of the Latin ethnicity. We are taught from a very young age to respect anyone and everyone. To obey your teachers, grandparents, parents, strangers, anyone that cannot match you in age and in wisdom. We are taught to respect them because all in all most want the best for us. Is that not what Hitler promised the people of Germany? He made promises of a better nation, a better life. I mean who doesn’t want to better themselves and better those around them. But we can’t be naïve. We can’t be blind and say everyone has their best intentions in what they tell us and teach us. Not everyone is inherently kind and attentive. There are bad people in the world and those people have to stop blaming different things for their actions: be it a person or a separate situation. We can’t continue to justify the fact that a white shooter killed innocent children because he had a bad childhood. People with worse lives come out better people. We can’t keep justifying that. It's really easy to point fingers. I believe that human beings are born with, what I like to call, a moral microchip. Not necessarily programmed with good or bad qualities. Basically, everyone influences you. I like to picture my brain as a computer, everyone can plug in a USB and download any kind of information they want onto there. It's up to society and the way you are raised to help you decide what’s right and what’s wrong. You use all the information everyone has given you: past experiences, knowledge, and explanations and come up with the things you believe are right and wrong. Which is why I believe that humanity, maybe one day, could possibly live in a peaceful world where everyone will be respectful of everyone else’s opinions and actions. But I think that day is still very far away. I don’t think that individuals realize that our government, for however good it is, brainwashed us after 9/11. We were basically taught that anyone Muslim was, essentially, out to destroy our country. What kind of reasoning is that? I understand that our country was hurt terribly, but we terrorized the general Muslim population when we were supposed to be focusing on their extremists. Our society is brainwashing (by creating stereotypes we are brainwashing) by essentially putting everyone in their own category like they’re herds of cattle in need of rearing and when we try to be somewhat of an individual we are isolated. Which is what I’ve seen and experienced. I think the world should start encouraging individuality and that way we can focus on the acceptance of everyone on the planet as an individual and get working on the peace most everyone wants.
The strong underlying force of this novel is the relationship between Amir and Hassan. Discuss their friendship. Why is Amir afraid to be Hassan's true friend? Why does Amir constantly test Hassan's loyalty? Why does he resent Hassan? After the kite running tournament, why does Amir no longer want to be Hassan's friend?
Amir and Hassan’s relationship could be said to be a love-hate relationship. The two, in the very beginning of the book, seem like brothers, inseparable and doing everything together. The two even had their own tree where they dubbed themselves “Amir and Hassan, the sultans of Kabul” (27). Hassan’s father, Ali, would constantly remind Amir and Hassan “that there was a brotherhood between people who fed on the same breast, a kinship not even time could break” (11). Even though Hassan was totally devoted to Amir as a servant and friend, his first word was Amir, Amir constantly changed his position on whether he was friends with Hassan or not. There were times where Amir would love Hassan and treat him affectionately by “[clutching] him in a hug and [planting] a kiss on his cheek” (30), saying that Hassan was his one and only true friend. Then there were other instances where Amir would think “but he’s not my friend! He’s my servant” (41). Amir had reasons to admit that they could never truly be friends because “[Amir] was a Pashtun and he was a Hazara, [Amir] was Sunni and he was Shi’a, and nothing was ever going to change that” (25). Amir and Hassan’s relationship depends on the mood and setting of Amir; when Amir is alone with Hassan and happy, the two are best friends forever, but when Amir is out in public with friends or family, or just in a bad mood, he can’t stand Hassan and treats Hassan as if they had never met. I also agree with Ellie’s excellent point on how Amir treats Hassan like a toy, playing with him at times and throwing him in the corner the rest of the time. Amir is afraid to be Hassan’s true friend, I believe, for two reasons. One, the two are from different religions and they are on different levels in society. Amir is above Hassan in society and it’s very rare to see people from two different society levels interacting, let alone being close friends. I think that Amir is very proper and believes in order so he is reluctant to become too close to Hassan and break that order. Secondly, I think that Amir is afraid to be abandoned. Everyone in Amir’s family has left him or treated him badly. Amir’s mother “died giving birth to [him]” (6) and Baba has never treated Amir like a son; also, Amir saw Ali’s wife leave him. I think that Amir doesn’t want to be Hassan’s true friend because if he gets to close, Hassan could leave him or turn on him like everyone else in his family. Amir constantly tests Hassan loyalty for the second reason given above, he wants to see if Hassan will ever desert him. Amir test Hassan through questions, physical acts, and emotionally and Hassan proves his loyalty again and again but Amir is very insecure and continues on.The one time, Amir tests Hassan’s loyalty by throwing pomegranates at him to see if he will hit him back. This act shows that Hassan has no intention of ever trying to hurt Amir and I think this would give Amir some piece of mind except Hassan and Amir are no longer friends. Ellie makes a great point by saying that Amir did it to feel powerful like his father. All of his life, Amir has heard “lore” (12) and “successes” (15) of Baba while Amir has stood on the sidelines and tried to live up to it. By controlling Hassan and testing him, Amir gets a sense that he is too somewhat powerful, therefore creating some sort of likeness between father and son. Many times in the novel, we see Amir thinking mean and selfish thoughts about Hassan. I believe that Amir resents Hassan for two main reasons: Hassan has a sort of relationship with Baba and Hassan has a more loving father than Amir. Multiple times, we see that Baba treats Hassan almost equally to Amir; when Amir is bought a kite, Hassan also receives the same kite. In one circumstance, during the opening of Baba’s orphanage, Amir tells Baba that Hassan has “the runs” (13) so that he could have “Baba all to [himself]” (13). There are even times where Baba is more of a father to Hassan than Amir. One time, during a skipping stone contest, Hassan skipped a stone farther than Amir and Baba “patted Hassan on the back. Even put his arm around his shoulder” (14). Baba never used to do these gestures to Amir, Amir recalls “it wasn’t often Baba talked to me, let alone on his lap” (17). Amir is jealous that Hassan is on such good terms with Baba while he has to constantly fight to get any sort of emotion out of his father; Hassan has all the skills that Amir’s father want Amir to have. Then there is also the issue that I believe Amir is jealous that Hassan has a caring father like Ali. Ali loves Hassan so much; Hassan is his “joy” and “antidote” (10). Amir always wished that his father would love him the way that Ali loved Hassan; Hassan seemed to have two fathers while Amir was left with none. After the kite running tournament, Amir no longer wants to be Hassan’s friend because every time that Amir looks at Hassan, he sees his sin and his cowardice. When Amir watched Hassan get raped by Assef, he realized that he could have done something to stop it, to protect his friend. Instead, he turned away and let the atrocity happen to Hassan. Right before Hassan was raped, Amir “had one last chance to make a decision. One final opportunity to decide who I was going to be” (77) but Amir ran, making him a horrible friend and a spineless person. Each time Amir is near Hassan, he becomes the horrible person that he does not want to be; so, to avoid feeling that way, he disassociates himself with Hassan, no longer being his friend and avoiding his sinful act and character that he has become. The main friendship and “strong underlying force” of the novel is demolished with one wrong decision from a boy who had always been unsure of his friendship with his one and only friend.