Elie Wisel/The Last Emperor the

His enlightenment comes when he is forced to be fully self-reliant. He realizes that he cannot depend upon his father or upon anyone else for omniscient knowledge, and that he is left to his own devices and beliefs in a world without morality. Like the cave-dweller, Elie eventually realizes that the material world does not offer moral answers; rather moral answers come from his own mind, sense of fortitude, and faith.

Even Oedipus experiences this final, sinking revelation, after living as an ignorant but happy king of Thebes. Oedipus thought he was wise because he believed he had escaped his fate to kill his father and marry his mother and had solved the riddle of the Sphinx. At the end of Sophocles tragedy, the former king blinds himself in horror that he has fulfilled the Delphic oracles promise and also because he knows that he is unable as a human being to manipulate the material world where he dwells, he is only a plaything of the gods, just like the Last Emperor and Elie Wiesel will learn in their stories, which come after the myth of Oedipus in human time but reinforce the same principles.

Only ones moral fiber and goodness can be trusted, not what transpires in the world.

From the shadows of not knowing, to the false puppets of seeming to avoid fate and being king to final enlightenment, Oedipus journey from the cave is a terrible, rather than a sadder and wiser journey, like the Last Emperor, and unlike Elie Wiesel he cannot even feel happy he has left his tormentors behind, as he must wander the world as a blind man and parricide for the rest of his days.

Although the happiness of a gated palace may seem nice, however, it is not paradise, as “The Last Emperor” shows us. Philosophical enlightenment and escaping the cave does not bring pleasure, necessarily, but even the youngest boy dimly knows and hates the prison of the cave, and no matter how painful the journey, there is only one way to go — outward and upward into the terrible, blinding light of knowledge and insight..


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