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Shame Vs Guilt Essay

696 words - 3 pages

Ericka Arellano
Period 1
3/27/10
Shame vs. Guilt
Oedipus Rex, from Sophocle's Oedipus Trilogy represents the shame culture. Achilles, from Homer's The Iliad, represents guilt. Shame is cause by humiliation in public, where everyone is aware of what happened. Guilt, is an internal problem which cannot be usually understood by others. Oedipus caused his own guilt by being ignorant to everyone's warnings, while Achilles was shamed by Agamemnon when he said that he had more value and stronger than someone like Achilles.
Oedipus Rex was a king who strived to track down the criminal that killed King Laius. Every step Oedipus takes brings him closer to the reason why he belongs to the shame culture. Oedipus was a curios king who would not stop at nothing. Even when he was warned by the Oracle of Tiresias, Oedipus was naive to the possibility that he would only suffer from searching for the criminal who killed King Laius. Oedipus even questioned Tiresias' power when ...view middle of the document...

Achilles cared a lot about what others thought of him. He spent most of the Iliad getting revenge on people and having tantrums. Shame causes the feeling of humiliation, and degradation. Achilles felt he should be superior to mortals and so he took out his anger and feeling on everyone else. Achilles killed Hector, a well-respected Trojan hero, and degraded his lifeless body out to the Trojan warriors.
This action revealed that Achilles felt so much shame, that he was no longer able to control what was happening. He felt that the only reasonable thing to do was kill others and restore his pride and honor. Achilles could not do anything about the fact that he was always feeling the need to seem superior. This feeling of being powerful made Achilles seem almost inhuman, especially before the battle scene between him and Achilles. In the river scene, Achilles was killing Trojans with no mercy. He lets nothing get in his way of getting to Hector. When he approaches Lykaon, the man pleads that he spares his life, Achilles responds, "Come friend, you to must die." And he kills Lykaon as if it {text:soft-page-break} was his duty.
Guilt is more civilized and positive than shame. Since guilt is an internal feeling, it can be used to solve conflicts. People will see that their behavior was wrong and their conscious will immediately release guilt into their system. This causes the person to the the moral thing and apologize, give in, etc. Guilt is an emotion or a part of the human's conscious that helps them be more aware of the situation. It brings out a feeling of irresponsibility which results in the person trying to fix the problem. Shame, although similar to guilt, does have its differences.
Shame leads to aggressive behavior, which is what happened in The Iliad with Achilles. Shame is not constructive. Shame will only make someone feel embarrassed, depressed, and it will cause them to keep hidden emotions within themselves that will only lead to an explosion of anger later on. Guilt makes a person realize their actions, and fixing them. Shame only makes a person withdraw from the real world and take drastic measures to reach the perfection they feel they need.

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