Ignorance Is Bliss

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Ignorance is Bliss
In Sophocles’ “Oedipus Rex” and Athol Fugard’s “Master Harold and the Boys” we see the protagonists evolve from ignorance to knowledge in several different ways. As we watch this evolution we see both characters start at ignorance in very similar ways and while both take very different routes they end their journeys with similar complex consequences resulted from the knowledge they gain along the way.

In “Oedipus Rex” the protagonist, Oedipus, starts from his entrance in the story at a place of ignorance. He is naïve to the truth about his life and the direction it is heading. Oedipus is unaware that he is King Laios’ son and he will ultimately fulfill his destiny to kill his father and marry his mother, no matter what steps he or his parents take it is a fate they cannot run from. Oedipus’ knowledge comes only later when he realizes the truth, that he is in fact King Laios’ son and when he murdered the king along the road where the three highways meet he did in fact kill his father and go on to marry his mother (Anti 2. 192). The knowledge of the seer’s prophecy coming true leads to Oedipus’ ruin. In “Master Harold and the Boys” the protagonist is Hally the seventeen year old shop owners son. The reader is shown Hally’s ignorance by how he acts with Sam and Willie. Hally treats these men as friends, particularly with Sam, the two are more like companions then a white boy and black hired help. Instances of this ignorance are seen in the way they spent their time together. Hally naively believes that him and Sam can be friends despite the place and time they are in and how is father treats them. Hally believes that since progress is seen in the world that he can escape his fathers beliefs and that despite Sam’s observation that some people are bad and that’s just the way it is: “Hally: It doesn’t have to be that way. There is something called progress, you know. We don’t exactly burn people at the stake anymore” (482). Like Oedipus, Hally...
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