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The Darker Face of the Earth :

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Ayah Elkossei

on 24 November 2015

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Transcript of The Darker Face of the Earth :

The Darker Face of the Earth :
A Retelling of Oedipus Rex

Brief Summary
Historical Context
Begins in the 1820s, as the Missouri Compromise stirs up animosity between the North and South.
Under the threat of a growing abolitionist movement, South Carolina tightens its anti-abolitionist stance; make economic, moral, and social arguments to uphold the institution.
Liberia founded as colony for blacks fleeing racist America.
Various slave rebellions as well as the case of the Amistad both bolster and scare the abolitionists.


Social Context

-Both believed that a man's place is outside the house, while a woman's is inside; women had no power, but a women's status was higher than a slave's, based on her race.
-Decribed as a beast and non human by her slaves.
-Valued for their virtue and upholding Christian ideals; sexual prudity and modesty.
- The South was collectively was built around the institution of slavery and a foundation to the rules of society. Race and gender greatly affected the social roles of the individuals in that society.
- Paternalism: the system, principle, or practice of managing or governing individuals, businesses, nations, etc., in the manner of a father dealing benevolently and often intrusively with his children.
- Paternalism gave women more power over her own household; however, she had to uphold this proper image for the public or she would look down upon.
- It was actually quite common for the women of the house to sleep with their slaves, but in order to refrain from having her image ruined, he would have to lie and say that the slaves raped her. She would have been looked down if people found out.









Knowledge and Power
Fate and Destiny
- Darkness is huge symbol in both plays on ignorance.
- Unlike tragedy. Augustus doesn't seek out his parentage because he does not have the authority to and also lacks social meaning
- KNOWLEDGE IS POWER!
-Scylla, a tall dark woman in her twenties, resembles the role of Tiresias; she is the prophetess/ person who is blessed with otherworldly knowledge and she knows about the curse that has fallen on the land.
However, just like Oedipus is skeptical of Tiresias, Augustus also mocks her kind of knowledge.
EX=AUGUSTUS: “You feed on ignorance and call it magic. What kind of prophet works against her own people?”
- Each tragic hero has a hamartia, a fatal flaw that leads to their downfall and the hamartia for Augustus is his rejection of all things African while fighting against the Euro-Americans.
-He rejects slavery but at the same time, he's wrapped up in colonial culture and he's not aware or does not want to be aware of his origins.

BY: Mariyah Mahmood and Ayah Elkossei
Equality, Liberty, and Fraternity
The play starts out with Amalia giving birth to a mulatto child. To hide the "disgraceful" indiscretion, the child is given away.
20 years later, a new slave is aquired at the plantation-Augustus.
Augustus is intelligent, traveled, and educated; becomes the leader of the slaves on the plantation. Joins a group of rebel slaves that are working to organize a revolt on the plantations.
Begins torrid affair with Amalia.
Augustus' loyalty to the cause is questioned, told to kill Amalia and Louis.
Discovers that Amalia is his mother, she kills herself.
Slaves revolt; Augustus hailed as hero.
Rita Dove
Inspired to retell the Greek tragedy while in Jerusalem.
Draws parallel between Moses (savior of the Jews) and Oedipus)(savior of the Thebans).
Reimagines Augustus as a revolutionary in the same vein as Moses who will lead the slaves out of bondage.
On the heels of both the French and Haitian Revolution, paranoia rises amongst proponents of slavery. Will they be able to sustain their power for much longer in the midst of 'revolutionary' ideals such as equality and freedom?
Sense of dread and fear similar to plague in Thebes.
Undercurrent of inevitable revolution
Democratic ideals, expansion, and the first real attempts at imperialism, but at what moral cost?
Tension between egalitarian ideas rooted in the Englightenment (Rousseau & Montesquieu) vs pursuit of profit and racial superiority.
- Freedom is fated, no matter what in both tragedies. Oedipus is fated to find out the truth about his dark past and the truth does in a way set him free.
- Through the foreboding details of the play and the dramatic irony, the fate of the curse is fulfilled.
- In Dove's play, Augustus and the slaves are free because in a way Augustus's discovery of his past, helps catalyze the rebellion and the takeover.
EX= NARRATOR: A sniff of freedom's all it takes to feel history's sting; there's danger by-and-by when the slaves won't sing.

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