Theme Of Shame In Odysseus

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In Sophocles’ Philoctetes, shame is evident throughout the first half of the play. Soon after Odysseus starts his conversation with Neoptolemus, the latter starts to feel shameful for what he is about to enter: Neoptolemus refuses to maneuver and “deceive” (55) Philoctetes “with beguiling words”, for which he believes is not in his “nature to practice” (88). Odysseus, on the other hand, while convincing Neoptolemus to deceive Philoctetes to court the latter, expresses shame too. Yet, he explains that the stakes are too high that although it’s not in Neoptolemus’ nature to “consider or articulate such cunning”, the end results would bring joy. Unwillingly, Neoptolemus accepts the duty and encounters an embarrassed Philoctetes. Eager to see…show more content…
Moved by Neoptolemus’ shame, Philoctetes beggingly requests Neoptolemus to bring him aboard the ship sailing back to the battlefield (487), which Neoptolemus agrees. On the ship, Philoctetes’ symptoms deliver him in a critical condition, yielding an “unbearable” sickness (754). Shamefully, Philoctetes hands Neoptolemus his prized bow that Odysseus long wants after the latter promises no will other than the two men would hold the bow in good faith (774-775). Subsequently, Philoctetes’ pain puts him to sleep, with Neoptolemus holding onto the prized bow. The chorus recommends Neoptolemus seize the bow, abandon Philoctetes, and make the moment a moment of victory (838). However, Neoptolemus vehemently rejects the recommendation, citing that principles are more important than occasional victories, and what’s more disgusting the sickness is “when a man abandons / his own true nature and acts shamefully” (901-902). All in all, shame is a natural emotion characters cannot escape from, and Neoptolemus’ shame ultimately prompts him to stand with principles over dirty

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