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Ignorance Is Not Bliss In William Shakespeare´S Hamlet And Sophocles

1724 words - 7 pages

Many people believe that ignorance is bliss. There is a mentality that exists, where the truths are better off unknown and another where the truth is ignored completely. This is certainly true in William Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Sophocles’’ Oedipus. Jocasta and Gertrude both choose to ignore reality, and therefore blind themselves from the truth before them. As a result of her intentional ignorance, Jocasta severely damages her relationship with Oedipus and her reputation, whereas Gertrude’s ignorance merely causes mild, repairable damage to her relationship with her son and her reputation. Therefore, Jocasta’s contentment in her ignorance inevitably results in a far more tragic ending, than that of Gertrude.
Jocasta’s blindness to the truth ruins her relationship with Oedipus unlike Gertrude’s blindness which merely taints her relationship with Hamlet. Primarily, as Oedipus comes closer to discovering the truth, Jocasta begs him to stop searching. She pleads with him yelling “No! In God’s name – if you want to live, this/ must not go on. Have I not suffered enough?/... I know I am right. I’m warning you for your own good.” (Sophocles 55). It is clear that Jocasta knows the truth and all along yet she refuses to tell Oedipus .She tries very hard to ignore the fact that Oedipus is her son because she knows once he discovers the truth, he will not even be able to look her in the eyes. It terrifies Jocasta to know that once Oedipus realizes that she is aware of the truth all along he will loathe her. Nothing hurts her more than knowing that the one she loves despises her. Jocasta can evade these unfortunate events if she did not ignore the obvious truth before her. Moreover, Jocasta desperately hopes that Oedipus dies before he uncovers the truth. She cries out in agony “Doomed man! O never live to learn the truth!” (55). Jocasta is avoiding the truth for so long but, now it is unavoidable and she is afraid. She is afraid of what Oedipus will think of her and she is afraid that as soon as the truth comes out their relationship will be destroyed. She also wants Oedipus to die before learning the truth so his memory of her will not be negative. Oedipus would not hate her if she did not blind herself from the truth because then, she is as innocent as him. However, as a result of her intentional ignorance Oedipus will regard her with disgust and hatred once he discovers the truth. Jocasta’s act of ignorance shatters her relationship with her son; while Gertrude’s wilful blindness from the truth merely damages her relationship with Hamlet. Initially, Gertrude puts on an act of blindness from the truth, causing Hamlet to become furious. Hamlet tells Gertrude that Claudius murdered “a king and marry with his brother.” To which Gertrude later ignorantly responds by asking “what have I done, that thou dar’st wag thy tongue/ in noise so rude against me” (Shakespeare Act 3.Scene 4. Line 39). Hamlet clearly states above that Claudius, the man she is...

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