Reservoirs as symbols of power and control in literature


In literature, reservoirs have often been used as symbols of power and control. These man-made structures that hold vast amounts of water have long been associated with authority and dominance. Whether it is a king who controls the water supply of his kingdom or a corporation that uses water as a means to manipulate the masses, reservoirs in literature serve as a powerful metaphor for those in positions of power.

One of the earliest examples of reservoirs as symbols of control can be found in the epic poem Beowulf. In this ancient tale, the Danes are terrorized by a fearsome monster named Grendel. The kingdom’s only source of water, a magical spring, is controlled by this monster and anyone who dares to approach it is met with certain death. This water source represents not only physical nourishment but also power and control over the lives of the people. Grendel’s control over the spring is a manifestation of his power and the Danes’ dependency on it makes them vulnerable to his rule.

Another example of reservoirs as symbols of power can be seen in George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. In this fantasy world, the kingdom of King’s Landing is supplied with water by a vast network of underground tunnels and reservoirs built by the Targaryens. The control over this water supply is a major source of power and influence for the Lannister family, who rule over King’s Landing. A crowded and impoverished city like King’s Landing is entirely dependent on this system, giving the Lannisters a stronghold on their subjects.

But reservoirs are not only symbols of power in fictional worlds. They have also been used in literary works to represent real-life struggles for dominance and control. In Ayn Rand’s novel, The Fountainhead, the protagonist Howard Roark, a brilliant and unconventional architect, designs a reservoir for his native town. His design is rejected by the town’s people because it does not conform to traditional styles, but Roark is determined to see his creation come to life. Through the construction of the reservoir, Roark showcases his unwavering belief in individualism, unfettered creativity, and resistance against societal norms. His unwavering control over this project represents his power over his own destiny and his ultimate triumph against a society that seeks to control and conform.

Similarly, in Joseph Conrad’s novel, Heart of Darkness, the Congo River can be viewed as a reservoir, holding within its deep and turbulent waters both physical and psychological power. The exploitation of the Congolese people and their land by European colonizers is represented by the ruthless construction of a dam and a network of reservoirs that flood the land and destroy villages. The Europeans’ desire to control and dominate the natural environment is paralleled by their desire to control and manipulate the local population for their own gain.

In conclusion, reservoirs in literature have been used as symbols to represent power and control in various forms. From the ancient epic of Beowulf to modern works like A Song of Ice and Fire and The Fountainhead, these man-made structures serve as a powerful metaphor for those in positions of authority. They represent the control and manipulation of resources and people in both fictional and real-life scenarios. Whether used to showcase the struggle against conformity, the exploitation of marginalized communities, or the desire for dominance, reservoirs in literature continue to be a potent symbol of power and control.