On Overcoming the Pressures to Dehumanize others

On Overcoming the Pressures to Dehumanize others

In Sophocles’ Philoctetes, The main Character Philoctetes is both dehumanized and manages to overcome this dehumanization. This play begins nine years after Philoctetes was bitten on his foot by a poisonous snake. His wound from the bite does not heal, causing him excruciating pain. His crew sees his injury as a burden therefore abandoning him on the island of Lemons. His crew abandoned him, exhibiting a form of dehumanization they are ultimately inferring that Philoctetes is not worth helping or healing but rather it is easier and more convenient to leave him on the island. Philoctetes even knows that they have dehumanized him he says “Then once, to their joy, they’d seen me asleep on the shore After a stormy passage, they laid me inside A rocky cave and left, tossing me out A few beggarly rags, with a small amount of available Food to keep me alive and avoid pollution.”(Scene 2) He compared himself to a rag because this is how his crew views him; he also says it brought them Joy to leave him on the island. Dehumanization is also defined as witnessing someone else pain or hurt, Philoctetes crew witnessed him being harmed which only further dehumanized Philoctetes. Not only is Phiolctetes dehumanized in this way but he also faced dehumanization from the Greeks that stayed on the island he abandoned on. He is treated as less than from the Greeks and disregarded even though he will later be a greek hero. They do not respect Philoctetes mainly I believe because of his injury. Over time other Greeks go to the island still dehumanizing Philocetes by refusing to save him. Philoctetes would even ask them to tell his father that he is abandoned on the island so that he can sail to him and rescue him. The Greeks never relay the message to Philoctest’s father. Philoctetes says that his messengers “couldn’t be bothered with him.” Even though relaying a message is a simple task the Geeks still chose not to relay the message to Philocteste’s father. This is further proving how the Greeks chose to dehumanize Philocetes all because of his injury. Although we see Philoctestes being dehumanized by many of the characters it is almost ironic that the Greeks need Philoceteres if they are going to win the war. Without the help of Philocetes the Greeks will not win the war and their people will not be saved. Philoctetes ultimately is able to overcome his dehumanization by proving to the Greeks his worth and that they will need him and his bow and arrow to win the war. The Greeks also know this is true which is stated in the proficy.


One passage that particularly stood out to me was passage two. Here Odysseus tells Neoptolemus to cheat and deceive Philoctestes for his bow and arrow. Odysseus says to “cheat the mind of Philoctestes by means of story told as you converse with him.” Odysseus knows that Phiolctestes is the only one who can win the war. But Philoctetstes will never help Odysseus and the Greeks on his own because of the way they dehumanized him. For this reason Odysseus tells Neoptolemus to trick Philoctetes so that he may go to Troy and win the war. I thought this passage was important because even though Odysseus needs the help of Philoctetes he still cheats and deserves him. To me this is still a form of dehumanization. Tricking someone into doing something is technically you having power over them. This is one of the traits of dehumanizing another. I have been tricked a lied to before by someone who I trusted. In my opinion this is one of the worst dehumanization, especially when you though that person respected you. For someone to lie to your face and on top if that try to trick you to me shows that they never had respect for you. This is a form of dehumanization that makes you feel as though that person does not care what the outcome will be from their lies.I know that Neoptolemus has to listen to Odysseus but I still do not know how he could if it strongly goes against his morals. If it was me in this situation even through Odysseus is more higher up I would have done what I thought was right. Odysseus is trying to be a good leader by getting Philoctestes to win the war but Philocteste’s may have helped Odysseus if he did not abandon him in the island. Odysseus did not display good leadership when he did this because he ultimately played into Philoctestes dehumanization by leaving him stranded. Philoctestes has the right to be angry and the right to not help Odysseus and the greeks by the way they treated him. Not only does Odysseus dehumanize Philoctetst but he also dehumanizes Neoptolemus, who is an honest noble man that does not want to lie to Philoctestes. Odysseus knows that Neoptolemus must obey him because he has more power over him. Here see Odysseus dehumanizing not one but two characters.

Plotting your leadership Development:

A group that I know have been dehumanized today in the country is immigrants. Immigrants are a huge population in America that widely come here to obtain a better life for themselves and their children. Immigrants have and continue to be dehumanized by many people. They can be dehumanized if they don’t speak english, or if they look different, or if they act differently. Many people talk down on immigrants even though they are normal people like you and me. In 2016 during Donald’s Trump campaign he used very dehumanizing rhetoric to tell his supporters that if he is elected he will make sure that there will not be any immigrants in the country. He called Mexican immigrants rapists and robbers, he called Haitian and African immigrants dirty. This type of rhetoric made others that support him think it is ok to partake in the dehumanization of a group just based on the way they look, or speak. Immigrants have been dehumanized because they are seen as less than by many Americans. Mexican Immigrants and Muslim immigrants in particular face major dehumanization by ignorant Americans. Immigrants that come to America, come to be free many times they come for refuge and will work hard to build a life here. From learning about the different traits one must exhibit to be dehumanized I can say that immigrants and dehumanized because they are regarded as a member of an out group or “not one of us”, Many people do regard them as physically disgusting, and some feel they have power over them, for example the president. Although many immigrants can feel dehumanized I still see their passion and hard work to make a life here. My parents for example faced many challenges coming to America, with no college degree and as immigrants, but still made a good life for their family. Although they are not Mexican or muslim it is still a scary feeling to know how many people in this country feel about immigrants that come here and may be subjected to rejection from others. This group has been dehumanized for years and events in history only contributed to peoples ignorance even more. For instance after 9/11 happened more people partook in the dehumanization of muslims. I have seen people ripping off women's hijabs. I have also seen people calling muslims terrorist and bombers unprovoked. I see people telling muslims and Mexicans to “go back to your country.” Telling them to speak english even though America really has no official language. In order to make the group humanized by others is really going to be a challenge. I think people dehumanized this group out of ignorance. Ignorance is something that is hard to overcome if someone is not open minded. Maybe I can start small by educating those that are ignorant. At my old high-school many students were ignorant to the issues that immigrants face and how they are treated in America. They took the beliefs of their parents and ran with it. We had many exchange students in my school that came to America for a better education. I explained to some students that this is also the case for immigrants. They come to America to seek a better life and to have more opportunities if not for themselves then for their families. Without immigrants America would be nothing. Immigrants work hard here doing hard labor and doing many jobs that people that are form here would not do. For example many immigrants have to work in the hot sun tending to crops that give us this food we eat. Without them there would be a shortage of crop workers and perhaps our produce would decrease. I have tried to educate some people of the true reality that immigrants are just people like you and me and do not deserve to be dehumanized. I think it is going to be hard to educate the whole country from being ignorant because at the end of the day you cannot change someone that does not want to be changed. In order for me to educate some people on this issue I would need to posses some leadership skills like being open minded and patient. I would need these skills because it is going to take time to educate those who are ignorant. They will have to be opening to learning and doing away with their old ideas and opinions.