Fate of a Cockroach Analysis

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Al-Hakim’s Fate of a Cockroach was first published in 1966. In my opinion, al-Hakim asserts that man has no control over his own fate as the central theme of his play. The belief that one can control his or her fate consequently leads to an obsession with attaining knowledge and power. Through his male characters, Al-Hakim intended to describe the nature of man as presumptuous, self-centered and obsessed with scientific pursuits. Alternatively, the women in his play closely epitomize the humbling phenomena of nature. Within the play, the Queen cockroach and Samia are characterized as ego effacing in events of their husband’s self-aggrandizement. Similarly, we are all confronted with our insignificance in the world when the powerful hand of nature crashes down upon us in the event of a natural disaster. Thus, it can be concluded that al-Hakim believes nature is where ‘power’ truly lies in our world. In terms of Fate of a Cockroach, man’s greatest flaw is the created ideology that we are significant enough to control our own fate. Al-Hakim’s play is separated into two instances within different worlds, yet both play a significant part in what happens in the other. Act I is set in the bathroom of Adil and Samia, his main human characters, but seen through the eyes of the King and Queen cockroach and their subjects. Act II centers around a hectic morning between husband and wife as they each prepare for their day. Adil proves to be Al-Hakim’s ‘personified cockroach’, as he finds himself captivated by the struggle of the King cockroach to climb up the slippery walls of the porcelain tub, as well as connected to it’s persistent will to live. With this knowledge, the audience can infer that the cockroaches’ world is a microcosm of modern human society. Therefore, any conclusions made about the nature of the cockroach and his kingdom can be paralleled to the nature of humans and civilization. The beginning of the play illustrates the distribution of power within the king and queen’s marriage. The King cockroach thinks his long whiskers to be inherent proof that he is better than all the other cockroaches, including his wife. Though he asserts his authority over his ‘royal’ subjects (the Savant, the Priest and the Minister), the Queen shows she cannot be so easily domineered by her husband. The first example of this can be seen in a conversation between the two in the immediate opening of the play, “Queen: I’m exactly the same as you- there’s no difference between us at all!ffffff King: There is a difference.ddddd adjkasjdkddddddasjdkjskdjaskdka fffffffff fff ff Queen: And what, prithee, might this difference be?nn adddna vvfffffffffffffffffff King: My whiskers. Jdjsjdsjdjsdjshdjshdjsjdhsjhdjshdjsh jsjsj vvvvvvvvvv Queen: Just as you have whiskers, so have I. nnnnnnnndddddnnnnn ddjdj ccccccc King: Yes, but my whiskers are longer than yours. ddddddddd Ddd d dddd Queen: That is a trifling difference. ddddddddddddDddddddddddddddddddddddd King: So it seems to you. Kkkskskskkdddddskskskkskskskkskskskksksksksksksks Queen: To you rather. It is your sickly imagination that always makes it appear to you that there is a difference between us.”(pg.4) Through this conversation the audience sees the King argues that his supreme authority is obvious to whoever looks at his whiskers, though the difference is trivial. On the other hand, the Queen cannot see the validity in this argument because it merely based on his perception that there is any difference between the two of them. She demeans her husband, belittles his boasting and questions his authority to keep him mindful that he is as insignificant as the rest of them. The play goes on to introduce more characters; the Minister, the Savant and the Priest. Not only are these three servile to the king, but he has also appointed them all for their unique “talents”. For example, the Minister was nominated for his “consummate concern with proposing...
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