ENGL 3747 – Essay 1
September 19th, 2017
Tragedy and its Affiliates
Human nature drives people to crave sorrow and mystery without any lasting effects, and one way to achieve this is by engaging various media texts such as literature and film. Originally both plays, Oedipus Tyrannus and Incendies are intense stories revolving around sinful crimes and investigation of oneself. One story is old, the other new, but both capture the effects of incest on personal identity. When compared and contrasted, these stories have inherent parallels yet the characters have deviating experiences. The most substantial distinction between these complex tragedies is the ending in which one family is torn apart and the other is brought together.
In attempts to rid Thebes of a plague, Oedipus, the king, is told he must banish the murderer of Laius who was the former king and husband of Jocasta (Oedipus’ wife). In his pursuit to save the city, Oedipus discovers a horrible truth of sins he unknowingly committed: he is the “killer of [his] father, bridegroom of the woman who gave [him] birth” (Sophocles 373). These realizations cause Oedipus to blind himself by gouging his eyes out and pleading for Creon to put him into exile. Oedipus is overpowered by shame and guilt, but he does accept the responsibility from his inescapable fate.
After the death of their mother, Nawal, twins Jeanne and Simon are instructed to deliver letters to their brother (who they never knew of) and their father (who they believed was dead). In order to give their mother a proper burial, Jeanne and Simon must travel across the world on a powerful journey, revealing this family’s true origins. In their quest, the twins learn horror after horror: Nawal falls in love with a Muslim refugee who is murdered by her brothers and she is forced to give her son up. During a civil war in (assumed) Lebanon, Nawal tries to reconnect with her estranged son, but ends up in prison for 15 years where she is raped and tortured, resulting in the pregnancy of the twins. The final truth that Jeanne and Simon discover after learning their father raped their mother is that he is also their brother (and Nawal’s first son, Nihad/Abou Tarek). The film ends with Jeanne and Simon fulfilling their mother’s directions, and acquiring a new understanding of their family that offers relief.
These traumatic stories share thematic elements of unveiling a disturbing family history that contains abandoning children, murder and incest. These secrets once kept in the past become an inescapable knowledge for Oedipus, Jeanne and Simon. Since both begin in the middle of the story, the plot is already set into a linear fashion, where the future of disturbing discoveries is inevitable. Oedipus can only reflect on the memory and knowledge of those around him whereas Jeanne and Simon experience a weaving labyrinth of questions and answers set by their mother, but both cannot change what is to come. Other minor similarities...