"The individual is not a killer, but the group is, and by identifying with it the individual is transformed into a killer." (Arthur Koestler; www.worldofquotes.com) In other words, the individual is the product produced by the stereotypical machine of society. In the works studied in class, each of the protagonists fell victim to this vicious formula, as they continuously suffered the weight of society's expectations. It may be said that Jude, Karl and Smith were more sinned against than sinned. The sole purpose and cause for their sins can ultimately be blamed on the reality that they were terribly sinned against by the societies they inhabited, and the corresponding pressures which inevitably crushed them in the end. I believe that society has the ability to conquer any individual, regardless of strength or resilience, and can do so in an abundance of ways. Oppression is one of the main contributories to this named destruction. .
Oppression, can be defined as "to impose excessive burdens upon; to overload; hence, to treat with unjust rigor or with cruelty." (www.dictionary.com) This is one of the larger issues within the studied works, which leads to the eventual breakdown of the main characters. I believe that oppression is one of the most threatening and intimidating elements of society, as the expectations that are placed on individuals can be quite overwhelming, and are likely to lead to the failure of the individual because these expectations are usually set too high. What society doesn't always realize is that the individual is doing their ultimate best to succeed and better themselves, but personal restrictions may be getting in the way of this potential success.
Karl, of Sling Blade, feels the pressures of oppression as he is constantly looked down on and referred to as a "retard". This is a stereotype which is chained to him, and throughout the film we watch him attempt to escape it and move on with his life.