Self-Destruction in Thebes and South Africa

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Oedipus Rex and “Master Harold” and the boys are dramatic tragedies that tell the story of two men who, as Kreon would put it, “serve [their] own destruction. Although the two plays are completely different in plot and setting, they are similar in respect to the irrational decisions that the main characters make. The main characters also share many of the same characteristics which include a false sense of pride, intelligence which is over shadowed by irrational decisions, clouded judgment, and shame of their actions. Although the characters serve their own destruction, it can be argued that the environment shaped the downfalls which take place in each play. Pride is a personality trait that Oedipus and Hally develop in each play that eventually serve to their destruction. Oedipus and Hally are both introduced as humble characters who develop a false sense of pride as each story progresses. Oedipus’ pride is based on his inability to accept reality, while Hally’s pride is based on social influences that shape his views on humanity. Oedipus’ demonstrates humility when the Oracle informs him that he is destined to kill his father and marry his mother. Oedipus believes what the Oracle tells him and eventually leads a journey to avoid his fate. Later in the story, he develops a false sense of pride which allows him to deny the truth behind Teiresias’ prophecy. Oedipus instead interprets Teiresias’ prophecy as a threat from Kreon and reasons that it is because of his “Wealth, power, craft of statesmanship! Kingly position, everywhere admired!”. (scene 1, 163-4) Oedipus’ language suggests superiority over Kreon and Teiresias, and it is this scene where he demonstrates that the humility he once possessed is gone. In the beginning of ... ... middle of paper ... believes that he is smarter and more aware than anyone he speaks to and becomes blind to the truth which was shown when Teiresia explained the prophecy. Oedipus Rex and “Master Harold” and the boys focus on character, judgment, decisions, and the relationship between the three. Oedipus and Hally are not “evil” characters but they become very unlikeable characters towards the end of their stories due to poor judgment and bad decision making. The reader roots for each protagonist and is let down by their actions throughout their stories. They serve their own destruction in their stories but also serve the destruction of their likeability from the perspective of the reader. The tragedy of each play is due to the series of poor choices that the characters make which lead to their undesirable actions. The two men become examples of disappointment and wasted potential.

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