TEXT OF VIOLENCE

2.1 SCENARIO

In what follows is the text version of the scenario that you can look in the form of the animated video. It concerns the emotions or feelings of shame, guilt, pride, and what role they play in our lives. Feelings and emotions often impact both how we act as well as how we perceive the world around us.

You can choose to read the scenario by yourself or watch the animated video. (If the teacher agrees and other pupils are ready to do so, you can also read it out loud with your classmates or even decide to (re)enact the scenario as a school- or class-play. You can also change aspects of how it develops or write different endings of the story).
The scenario features students at a school and also invokes two stories, one about Oedipus and the other about a famous warrior Ajax. After the script, you can find both stories briefly explained.

2.2 The story of Oedipus

The story of Oedipus comes from ancient Greece and its mythology. It is dramatically described in several plays by Sophocles, the famous writer of tragedy plays (born c. 496 BCE, Colonus, near Athens, Greece; died 406 BCE, Athens). His play Oedipus the King (Oedipus Rex) is perhaps the most well-known depiction of his story.
As said, there are several different variants of the story. According to one of them, Laius, the king of Thebes (a city in central Greece, northwest of Athens), was cautioned by an oracle that his son would kill him. Thus, after his wife Jocasta (also Iocaste or Epicaste) gave birth to their son, Laius has ordered that the baby-boy should be exposed in the wilderness in the mountains near the city and left to die there. But a shepherd found the baby, took pity, and saved him. Oedipus survived and was adopted by King Polybus of Corinth (an ancient city and a state in south-central Greece, in modern times, known for The Corinth Canal, i.e., a passage for voyages of ships between the Mediterranean Sea and the Aegean Sea) and his wife that took care of him as their own son. When growing up, Oedipus visited Delphi (a famous place that issues prophecies) and has learned that he is destined to kill his father and marry his mother.

Fearing this fate, Oedipus never returned to Corinth as he saw would be the best means to avoid this dreadful fate (mistakenly thinking that Polybus is his father).1 On his way to Thebes, he met Laius, his actual father, who provoked a quarrel, and Oedipus killed him (unknowing that he is his father) in the struggle between them. Arriving at Thebes later, he found out that the city is in need. Thebes were terrorized by Sphinx (a creature with the head of a woman, a body of a lion and wings of a bird; see image above) that posed riddles to people and those who could not answer them ended up killed by it.
Oedipus successfully solved the riddle, and as a reward, he received the throne of Thebes and the hand of the widowed queen, his actual mother, Jocasta. His fate was now completed, but he still did not know this. After learning the truth, Jocasta committed suicide, and Oedipus blinded himself and went into exile.2

2.3 The world of the story

The story of Ajax also comes from Greek mythology and is depicted in by Sophocles in a play titled Ajax. According to the legend, Ajax (also “Ajax the Great” or “Enormous Ajax”) was a hero, a brave Greek warrior of great stature that fought with Hector (the chief warrior of Troy, a kingdom in western Anatolia that fought with the Greeks in the so-called Trojan wars) and he rescued the body of another hero, Achilles that was killed in battle. There was a dispute between him and Odysseus for the armor previously worn by Achilles, but Ajax lost the fight. He nonetheless believed that he has earned to have it and wear this armor, and this flamed another dispute.3 According to the story, as described by Sophocles, Ajax attempted to assassinate Odysseus and the judges (Agamemnon and Menelaus) that were judging the fight between Odysseus and him. He set himself for this planned attack but was made confused by the goddess Athena. Due to this “blindness” caused by Athena, Ajax mistakenly slew the animals that his army has seized as the spoils of war and their keepers. Once realizing what he has done Ajax, feels shame. He feels humiliated and he fears that

others will laugh at him for making such a foolish mistake (even though the mistake itself was not his fault but the working of Athena). After struggling with this, he decides to take his own life. Agamemnon and Menelaus order that Ajax’s corpse is left unburied as punishment. But the wise Odysseus persuades the commanders to relent and grant Ajax an honorable burial. In the end, Odysseus is the only person who seems truly aware of the changeability of humans.
Again, this story reveals that we react to actions that we have done and that it is important to us how others perceive us. In relation to shame, we talk about shaming and stigmatization.

Shaming occurs when we publicly expose somebody for their flaws, wrong actions or characteristics, direct attention to them and invite them to feel shame for these flaws. Beware, that we can also be wrong to see something as a flaw.
Stigmatization can be understood as marking somebody out for something that he or she is or has done, excluding the person from the others.

In the scenario in the animated video, Pieter-Jan is in danger of being excluded from his classmates since he is forced to wear special badges. People also often react violently to shaming and stigmatization in actions that can be additionally fueled by their feeling of powerlessness.

2.4 Assignments related to the stories

Write down the assignments and answers to the questions below.
A. Tell the stories of Oedipus and Ajax in your own words.

B. What are the similarities between the stories of Oedipus and Ajax and the scenario featuring Pieter-Jan and other students?

C. What are the differences between the stories of Oedipus and Ajax and the scenario featuring Pieter-Jan and other students?

D. What would it be like if these two stories (Oedipus and Ajax) were happening not in ancient Greece, almost three millennia ago, but in present times? Write down, in brief, how would these stories played out if there were happening now, around you. You can choose to sketch both stories anew or only focus on one of them.

2.5 Quizzes and assignments related to them

The assignments that follow are optional and can be completed if you are willing to discover more on these topics.
There are three quizzes with overall six questions related to the animated video and also to what was said above. Your assignment here is to answer these questions and briefly explain why you answered as you did. Please write down your thoughts below each question.

Question 1:

Is it fair that Peter-Jan must wear the two mentioned badges? (You can choose more than one answer)

Who’s to wipe out the remembrance of Amalek?

Why did you choose the answer(s) you did?

Question 2:

When do we feel shame? (You can choose more than one answer)

Why did you choose the answer(s) you did?

Question 3:

Why do you think Oedipus was trying to hide himself before others and why he could not even stand his own look? (You can choose more than one answer)

Why did you choose the answer(s) you did?

Question 4:

Why was Ajax ashamed? (You can choose more than one answer)

Why did you choose the answer(s) you did?

Question 5:

When and why do we feel pride? (You can choose more than one answer)

Why did you choose the answer(s) you did?

Question 6:

Had Peter-Jan done something that merited others excluding him and avoiding him? (You can choose more than one answer)

Why did you choose the answer(s) you did?

2.6 Additional assignments

Bob Dylan: Hurricane

Read and/or listen to the song Hurricane by a famous folk singer Bob Dylan. Did you hear it before? Do you know the story that it contains about a boxer named Rubin Carter?

Here is a brief version of the story. Rubin Carter, a boxer with the nickname “Hurricane” because of his swift boxing moves, was falsely accused of a triple murder that happened on June 17, 1966, in a town called Paterson in New Jersey (US). Two men entered a bar, started shooting, and three people ended up dead. Ten minutes after this shooting took place, the police stopped the car in which Rubin was traveling with two of his friends. The witnesses at the scene of murder reported that they saw two black men entering the bar and described a car that was similar to the one that Carter was stopped in. However, none of these reports were particularly reliable. There was no evidence that Rubin was guilty of the murder, and it turned out that some of the evidence was framed and that the witnesses were forced or solicited to accuse Carter falsely. Later that night, Carter’s car was stopped again by the police, which ended up in the arrest. The charge for Carter was triple murder. There was no evidence that Rubin was guilty of the murder. It also turned out that some of the evidence was framed and that the witnesses were forced or solicited to incriminate and accuse Carter falsely. After several trials, the court and the jury found Rubin guilty and sentenced him to life imprisonment. It was only in 1985 that after several appeals, Rubin Carter was released from prison, and the initial indictment was dismissed. After being released, Rubin Carter was, among other things, executive director of the Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted and motivational speaker. His story was portrayed several times in books and movies. It shows how quickly one can be judged by the colour of their skin and how certain groups are highly stigmatized. Back to Dylan’s song “Hurricane.” In the song, Bon Dylan sings “Couldn’t help but make me feel ashamed to live in a land … Where justice is a game”.

A1. How do you understand this verse after knowing the story?

A2. Why would somebody feel shame for something that his or her country has done in the past or is doing in this moment?

A3. Do you know some other similar examples?

Images and expressions of shame

There are numerous depictions and other artistic expressions of the feelings of shame and guilt. One of the most famous ones is the statue of Cain by Henri Vidal (1864 - 1918), the French sculptor. It depicts Cain after murdering its brother in rivalry as described in the Bible and in the Quran. The statue is in Paris.

Another depiction used here is the one by Alison Skagss, a picture titled “Shame” (2009).
Take a few moments to look at the statue of Cain and to the painting Shame and complete the assignments below.

A1. What emotions does the statue of Cain express? How are these emotions expressed in the posture of the body? Try to point out as many details as possible.

A2. Looking at the picture “Shame”, how would you describe it to somebody who cannot see it? Write this description down.

A3. The final assignment for this section is for you to take a piece of blank paper or use the blank space below and draw the emotion of shame. You are free to do this in any way you like.

Click on the finish button to complete the course!

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