Does status justify transgression? Does it nullify suffering? The concept of psychological suffering in an ordinary man is embodied as guilt inspired masochism in Dostoevsky's book Crime and Punishment. He brings forward the 'Napoleons' - an elite people group so vital to humanity, their predestined greatness grants them freedom from ethical restraints.

'Napoleonism' hints at the difference between our true selves and ideal selves. The relentless pull of the idealised self is eternal - few ever reach it. Is this self the 'Napoleon' within us all? Or are these 'Napoleons' simply ordinary men pictured through a subjective consciousness? (does anything exist otherwise?) The craving to be a 'Napoleon', and the reality of the ordinary human condition war against each other, begging the question: is power an intrinsic birthright? 

The subject of the painting 'Napoleon' looks down upon the audience, adorned with a halo and against a royal red. She sits as someone above ordinary man, someone predestined for greatness. She represents a natural order amongst chaos, and to those she has trodden over she represents the power of the universe; a deity. Her sense of self expands beyond what her body can contain, indicated in the dissonance of her features. Within these features, is some part of her ordinary? Does she see what we see?  

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Hayley Steel