Fate of a Cockroach Analysis
Al-Hakim’s Fate of a Cockroach was first published in 1966. In my opinion, al-Hakim asserts that man has no control over his own fate as the central theme of his play. The belief that one can control his or her fate consequently leads to an obsession with attaining knowledge and power. Through his male characters, Al-Hakim intended to describe the nature of man as presumptuous, self-centered and obsessed with scientific pursuits. Alternatively, the women in his play closely epitomize the humbling phenomena of nature. Within the play, the Queen cockroach and Samia are characterized as ego effacing in events of their husband’s self-aggrandizement. Similarly, we are all confronted with our insignificance in the world when the powerful hand of
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By sticking to themselves, they are not constantly reminded of the fact that they are all the same and should be working together to solve the problem of the ants. This individualistic mentality keeps them from taking control over their lives. Instead, they are preoccupied with rationalizing ideas of grandeur through scientific equations; like why the tub is filled when there is light and empty when it is dark. When a procession of ants marches by chanting a song of togetherness (“There is amongst us none who says ‘I am not concerned with others’”(pg.16)), the cockroaches hear nothing. The ants’ voices are small, but their words hold a weighty philosophy; one the cockroaches cannot understand because they trivialize the ants’ significance.
Close to the end of Act I, the Queens implores the knowledge of the “eminent” Savant. She wishes to understand why, if the cockroach is considered superior to the ant, they still suffer because of “those other, inferior creatures”(pg.19). The Savant responds that patience is the key since they “cannot bring those creatures who are lower than us up to the same standard of civilization as ourselves”(pg.19). He continues on to say that unlike the ants, who care only for food, cockroaches touch things, other than food, with their great whiskers to “seek out their nature, to discover their reality…from curiosity, a love of knowledge,