Imposed Identity through Foucauldian Panopticism and Released Identity through Deleuzian Ressentiment in Samuel Johnson’s The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia

Razieh Eslamieh


The despotic society of classical era, run by a despot, who had “the right to decide life and death” of the dominated subjects (Foucault, History of Sexuality Vol. I 135), had indeed the system of observance and surveillance of Foucauldian panoptical system. The present paper scrutinizes the Happy Valley of Samuel Johnson’s The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia, as the symbolic representation of a panoptic structure in which dominant discourses are institutionalized in the captives and inmates of the Happy Valley. In essence, the central theme of Foucault’s theories of power is “the methods with which modern civilization creates and controls human subjects, through institutions” (Habib, A History of Literary Criticism 766) as well as discourses. The present paper contends that such institutions and discourses also existed in classical era and in the despotic society run by the despot, seemed to be the focal point or the center of power, but who indeed remained ineffective without discourses and institutions which dispersed his power.  



lines of flight, panopticism, despot, despotic society, Deleuzian positive difference, ressentiment

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