Comp Lit 2, 6 p.m.
June 13, 2013
A World with Collisions
In life, one’s own ignorance can trump any truth presented to them, if, and only if they choose to not keep an open mind. The key to avoiding these tragic and usually unnecessary casualties of the self is to understand when these truths are about to, or already have appeared onto a person’s path as they go through life. Once the truth is noticed then it is up to the person to verify and accept it, this is where the inner battle of the human mind begins. Most people would love to be able to identify what is true and what is false as simply as saying what’s black and what is white. The issue is that once they see the truth this battle between emotion and intellect occurs and whilst it happens, the person goes through a period where they must decide which side to take; the emotion, which is pure human instinct and raw, or the intellect, which is more factual and precise. It is these properties that many leading characters face in comedies and tragedies. One example is the character of Harold in “ ‘Master Harold’…and the Boys” by Athol Fugard. Harold is just a 17 year old boy blessed to be of the fairer skin complexion in Apartheid ruled South Africa. Another example such an idea occurs is in “Oedipus Rex” by Sophocles. Oedipus is a hero to the people of Thebes and has been given the throne in the absence of its former holder Laius. Both stories have the leading character travel through a roller coaster of knowledge and emotions that eventually shows them the truth and it is through these two concepts colliding, that they each begin to understand what has been idling by waiting to be exposed.
Before we uncover what revelations each character finds we must first understand who they think they are prior. Oedipus is strong, compassionate King of Thebes, who like any ruler wants what is best for his people and land. He represents what everybody wishes to be and cannot show signs of weakness for he is what keeps his people afloat even whilst a plague is hurting the entire region. Once again for his people to survive he must be the hero, “You brought us fortune; be the same again!” (55, Sophocles). Although he has no idea what is the reasoning for such crisis unlike the first time. On the other hand we have Harold also referred to as Hally, who is full of intellect for such a youth, with a tongue as eloquent as a wise old man. Although he is young he understands ideas and concepts that would surprise people. Hally knows so many different facts about the world and people in it, yet cannot fully accept facts about himself. Both characters are admired for what they have accomplished and what they know, but its when they fully grasp the information presented to them that really begins the collision of emotion and intellect, and causes each one to proceed upon paths they did not desire.
The revealing of the truth is what gets these characters to behave in the ways they did. Oedipus on one hand was not as aware of his past as he had thought. It seems that everything that occurs in his country is interconnected and is a result of each other’s actions. The plague that looms over his beloved country is actually caused by the man that brought freedom. Oedipus finds out that the prophecy he received did end up becoming true. He unknowingly killed his own father and had sexual relations with his very own mother. This was where the man who was so strong and brave, changed into an informed yet disheartened man. The prophecy that scared him away from his “parents” in Corinth finally was fulfilled and the revelation of the truth was not what he expected but was there the whole time. He thought he beat the prophecy by not confronting it and avoiding it and this ended up being his demise. As most humans he caved into his emotions instead of his intellect when the inner battle was ignited
For the King ripped from her gown the golden brooches
Cited: Fugard, Athol. “Master Holland’ and the Boys.” Responding to Literature. Ed. Judith A Stanford. 5th ed. Boston: McGraw Hill, 2006. 474-511
Sophocles. “Oedipus Rex.” Trans. Dudley Fitts and Robert Fitzgerald. Responding to Literature. Ed. Judith A. Stanford. 5th ed. Boston: McGraw Hill, 2006. 748-781
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