Reflective Essay

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July 25, 2011
2nd Reflective essay

In what ways did Sophocles in Philoctetes, Confucians, and Taoists deal with the questions of individualism and respect for authority?

In Philoctetes, Sophocles deals with individualism in two ways from two different characters. The king Odysseus shows his individualism by becoming conniving and deceitful. That is not honorable conduct for a Greek. His actions are definitely not appropriate for a Greek King. He is showing that he will do anything in order to win the war, even if he has to lie. With Neoptolemus, he shows his individualism by not doing what his king wants him to. He is showing his compassion to Philoctetes and he does not want to dishonor his family by manipulating a tragic man. In the readings of Philoctetes, it states, “part of the interest of the play is the tension between the obedience that Neoptolemus owes to Odysseus' orders to get the bow by any means and the compassion he feels for Philoctetes, who quite naturally bitterly resents the way the Greeks have treated him” (Storrs, 2011). When reading that, I feel that the respect of authority is what has Neoptolemus in turmoil for deceiving Philoctetes. He knows that he must win this war for his country but he does not want to deceive Philoctetes. Philoctetes has lost all respect for the authority of his Greek leaders because they exiled him on a mountain for 10 years. In the end Sophocles addresses respect of authority when the image of Hercules that appears to tell the men they must work together in order to win the Trojan War. Both men have great respect for the warrior Hercules. They will honor his wishes because of the respect that they have for him.

I do not believe that Confucianism is based on individualism. Individualism is about asserting independence and individuality. Confucianism is about educating yourself for society and respecting elders. Jeffery Hays wrote, “Confucius was not interested in individual salvation or individual rights....
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