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Compare a theme developed through the use of the Quest motif in City of Thieves by David Benioff with that in The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett.

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Compare a theme developed through the use of the Quest motif in City of Thieves by David Benioff with that in The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett.

Category: Definition Essay

Subcategory: Classic English Literature

Level: College

Pages: 4

Words: 1100

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The Theme of Violence in the Quest for Authority and Power
David Benioff’s story titled ” City of Thieves” has several themes among them violence, which is used in the quest for power and authority. In his story, Benioff narrates the story of a young Jew, who is arrested unjustly and charged for treason. The young Jew called Lev Beniov is depicted as the victim of circumstances and is treated unfairly as he awaits execution. With another cellmate Kolya, Lev is given an alternative to execution although under some conditions. They are required to collect one dozen of eggs for one of the Colonel s daughter who has a wedding. The two are given the condition that they must find twelve eggs within two days or face death sentence (Benioff, 33). Violence, as a major theme here, is used to oppress some people by soldiers who represent authority with the focus to maintain power and authority over the subjects.
Suffering and violence are evident themes of Benioff s story that he illustrates through the life and experiences of Lev, the young narrator who is in his mid-30s. The story opens with a sentence showing that Lev just realized that misery of his dull life. His grandfather of a Russian origin is shown to have suffered in the hands of soldiers, a trend that persisted during Lev s father s era (Benioff 51). The emphasis on the misery and suffering expressed when the narrator says that he never wanted to reveal his life whatsoever. Literal scrutiny of this statement shows that people were tormented and bullied by soldiers. The majority would never want a flashback of their lives. Further, Lev s father who was a poet is reported to have been arrested and taken to the unknown place by Soviet police for years just before his wife, Lev’s mother, and daughter fled Leningrad just before the arrival of Germans (Benioff 58). 
Violence and suffering in the hands of the police if also evident in Lev s experience after looting a Germany soldier s corpse. He is arrested and confined in the largest and isolated city prison where he meets Kolya. He would be executed for charges of treasons (Benioff 27). Kolya is used to place emphasize that the police were not only brutal, violent, and irrational in handling people. He was an insouciant Cossack, who exhibited exceptional skills and abilities in literal pretensions. He was in prison because he deserted his regiment while working as a soldier. The two are certain that they are doomed to face their death the following morning. In any case, they were conscious that violence was used by the top cream in authority to sustain their statuses. Lev finds Kolya annoyingly optimistic that they could still live to see another day.
All city residents suffer under the wrath of war and continue to starve almost to death. At some point, Lev and Kolya meet brutal cannibals, an encounter that triggers their minds into questioning the source of meet they had been eating all along. The story tends to revolve around incidences of cannibalism, starvation, people feeding on dog meat, birds, and even inedible such as books. One of the close friends dies from a shot by Russian soldiers and Kolya spends time with a preternaturally thin and skinny girl. At some time in the story, the heroes identify a heap of dead dogs in the forest with each strapped in an anti-tank mine. As people continue to suffer, soldiers who represent authorities continue to torment and murder innocent persons in a bid to sustain power within their confines. There is a small cream of military officers who seem to have benefited from the situation.
 The Maltese Falcon story by Dashiell Hammett, although a detective story, has soldiers and authority using violence to oppress their subjects. The intention is to retain power in a given group while the majorities continue to suffer. Importantly, though, Hammett expresses the theme of violence by emphasizing on the aspect of masculinity among men. Based on the story, men are depicted as fond of using violence to assert dominance, masculinity, and power. Detective characters are shown using violence as a tool for pressing suspects to tell the truth. However, the danger of death is evident in Hammett’s story where it occurs as a consequence of the pursuit for power. Similar to the case of Benioff s story where soldiers torment, intimidate, and use violence to remain in power over their subjects, Hammett s story has Sam Spade being compelled to use violence in maintaining power and authority over other characters in the story. 
Detectives seem to cling to the misconception that violence was the ultimate and effective tool for handling criminals. The same is evident in Benioff’s story where whoever is considered a criminal, whether guilty or not, was subject to execution after the brutally assault. Contrary to the expectations of authorities in both novels, using violence only bred more violence and crime. For instance, the society turned to cannibalism following the effects of violence in Lev’s world. Given the opportunity to describe Sam Spade, I would define him as the Falcon because he is equally elusive, though.

Societies characterized and dominated by violence and disregard of majority reward loyalty by a bad rap. Those in power are ever suspicious that others may pretend to be loyal when they have different motives. Hammett s story has individuals who seem too trustworthy being betrayed and subjected to suffering (Hammett 43). Kolya in Benioff s story is sent to jail and doomed for execution even after serving as a loyal soldier. Both novels show that loyalty is closely associated with the theme of deception. In any case, how can one claim loyalty from a person they do not trust? Loyalty is traded and sold to the highest bidder in both societies where violence ensues whenever the less powerful attempts to be defiant. A crucial observation is that the quest motif behind the extensive violence of the greed for power and wealth. The novels reveal how soldiers may be used by authorities to oppress innocent civilians.
In summary, the stories  City of Thieves and  The Maltese Falcon by David Benioff and Dashiell Hammett respectively feature oppression and violence with the quest motif being to retain power forever. In the  City of Thieves , Lev and Kolya are assaulted and imprisoned for different allegations, which are in defense of the authorities. Lev s grandfather had also suffered in the hands of the soldiers whereas his father was taken away never to return. The detective in Hammett’s story is also shown to prefer violence when dealing with suspects. Importantly, though, both authors seem to emphasize that violence is not an ultimate or effective method for dealing with criminals. Instead of combating crime, being violent on criminals or suspects only breeds more crime and violence in the society.
Works Cited
Benioff, David. City of Thieves: A Novel. New York: Viking Publishers, 2008.
Hammett, Dashiell. The Maltese Falcon. New York: McClelland & Stewart, 2015.









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