Essential Question: Why does great power destroy friendships and make people betray others? Can you trust those around you?
There’s a saying, “Be careful who you tell your problems to because not everyone that smiles at you is your friend.” I’m sure everyone knows the feeling of betrayal by experience or reading about it in a book and watching it happen in a movie. It’s a classic plot twist where the main character’s best friend really works for someone else and the protagonist doesn’t find out until a very dramatic point in the story.
In most cases, great power or wealth brings down the largest empires to the smallest groups of friends. The desire for material possessions destroys humanity because we all have a selfish need within. We begin to ask ourselves why does the thirst for power take over us? It is because of two things: a person’s character mixed with human nature.
We remind ourselves about how absolute power corrupts us all. It can turn the noblest of men into thieves and murderers. In the Lord of the Rings many people were lured in by the ring; it made them believe lies. They were told they would have ultimate power in Middle Earth. In the picture above, a good man named Boromir is not only becoming possessed by the ring, but he’s also forgetting his purpose as a hero. It gets to the point where he attempts to kill his friend Frodo to obtain the ring’s power. Many people fell for the spell and took the ring for themselves. After many years, it turned them from elegant creatures to something as ugly as this:
It’s human nature to be selfish; it’s a quality everyone has. it just shows more in some than it does in others. Riches and control are examples of things for which everybody strives. This desire, though, can become an unhealthy longing for materialistic possessions. In the picture of Gollum above, he has his one true love in his hands — the ring, or as he calls it, his “precious.” Gollum was once called Smeagol. He was a peaceful hobbit who lived with his cousin Deagol. They were fishing one day when Deagol found a golden ring at the bottom of a pond. He picked it up and when Smeagol saw it, he asked him if he could have it. They began to argue and eventually it led to Smeagol killing Deagol by choking him. Smeagol took the ring for himself. He eventually became the mangled, obsessive creature in the picture above.Betrayal: the act of breaking one’s trustAsk yourself this: Of the people around you, how many of them do you trust? You think this question is crazy because most of you would trust your family and friends around you. But you may be surprised to know those you call friends might not think the same things of you. You have to be careful trusting others, even though you seem assured that they won’t betray you. Everyone will experience betrayal — such things happen to everybody, whether it’s a friend telling another person her friend’s secrets and spreading rumors, or a friend coming over and stealing something of value out of his friend’s house. Trust is the one bond that takes years to create and only seconds to break. Your true friends are the ones that help you when you need it the most and don’t look for a reward when they do a favor for you. We all need people we can trust because eventually we all will grow old and may not be able to live without the help of someone beside us.In Sophocles’ Oedipus Cycle, the author really tries to show us a man’s downfall, caused by people who betrayed him, and his survival, helped by those he really trusted and could rely on. For example, Oedipus was betrayed by many people in his kingdom who drove him out when they found out his true heritage. Creon, a man who desired the throne, did not help Oedipus. Instead, he had him leave Thebes and even after Oedipus was blinded, only one came by his side to guide him: his daughter/sister Antigone. She could have left him alone to die, but she didn’t. She was a young, beautiful maiden who had her whole life ahead of her to discover the world, but she stayed by Oedipus’ side. Only true friends do that. Best friends can be distinguished from just friends when they sacrifice something important in their life to make time for you.The bonds you develop with people can be easily broken by wealth. Those you can truly call friends are those who don’t leave you for money or sell you out. I learned early on that you must choose your friends wisely. I was a quiet kid and never really did much to make a teacher mad. But one day I got called up to the office, and the principal asked me if I had taken a knife to school. I was so confused. He then told me that my “best friend” (at the time) brought a knife to school and he told a kid he was going to use it on him. The kid told the principal and when he got called up to the office he told them that I gave him the knife and that it was my idea. I never spoke nor even acknowledged him after that. I learned for the first time what people can do to you and how hard trustworthy friends are to come by. You begin to question who your true friends are and what their motives are to be with you.Going back to Oedipus, we can see that Creon’s loyalty was false and Antigone’s was pure. She showed this when Creon made it illegal for anyone to bury one of the sons/brothers of Oedipus. Back in ancient Rome and Greece it was a huge crime to not treat the dead properly, and if your body wasn’t buried the right way, you wouldn’t have the money to pay Charon, the gatekeeper of the underworld. Antigone risked her life to bury her brother. He was dear to her, and she wasn’t going to let anyone stop her from doing what was right for him. Her sister Ismene asked why why risk getting killed for him; just follow the law of Creon and move on. But Antigone valued the gods and their will, and she also valued her brother. The right thing to do was to bury him, so she did no matter the punishment. While Oedipus and Antigone were wandering, his sons/brothers were back home at Thebes fighting for the throne. They didn’t have the heart to care for their father’s condition, nor their sister’s. They saw an opportunity to get the crown and tried to take it. Eventually, the young boys fight to their death for the throne. Everyone in Oedipus Rex had a choice to be selfish or fight the urge. Not everyone faces such dramatic circumstances, but the elements of this conflict exist in everyone’s life. Whenever people are tempted by power, you really have to be on the lookout for the qualities you don’t want to see in your friends.Oedipus and Antigone