Oedipus Rex or Oedipus the King
Oedipus and Hercules: Similarities and Differences
Who could forget the story of Hercules? This famous story is about a son of the gods who resides on Earth as a normal human with abnormal strength. In the story, Hercules fights various monsters and is saving his city constantly. However Hercules makes a deal with Hades, god of the underworld, to give away his strength for one day. This same day Hades sets the four titans, whom bring blizzards, rock slides, tornadoes, and volcanoes, upon the city as well as Mt. Olympus, where the gods live. Even though Hercules is helpless physically, he discovers his inner-strength, battles through his struggles, breaks the deal, and in the end saves his girl, his city, and the gods. Like Hercules, Oedipus’ life has a similar pattern. Although Oedipus’ story didn’t have such a happy ending he is nevertheless a hero because he battled through his own struggles, discovered his inner-self and in the end purges Thebes of all sin.
The plague on Thebes was never Oedipus’ fault to begin with. Like the critic questions, “How has man failed, that he should be cursed by the gods with fear of the thing he has created in innocence?” Just weeks after Oedipus was born as an innocent baby the prophets proclaim that he will kill his father and marry his mother. Did baby Oedipus do anything to deserve this tragic fate? No, he was doomed from birth by something that he couldn’t control. When Oedipus gets older and is told his fate, his reaction is to try to evade it. However in attempt to run away from his fate, he runs right into it.
Denial is an inevitable stage when it comes to facing fate. Oedipus goes through this stage when he talks with Teiresias. Oedipus becomes enraged with Teiresias’ news that he is “the land’s pollution” (25) and “the murderer of the king” (26). His tragic flaw of being easily frustrated kicks in. He becomes so angry he places blame on others and yells at Teiresias for being “blind in mind and ears as well as in [his] eyes (26). This is ironic because Oedipus although not disabled is the one who can’t see the “light of day” (24). However in the back of his mind Oedipus always seeks the truth and soon he begins to emerge from the denial river.
Fate is unavoidable. However there are numerous stories of how people try to fight their fate. Such as Odysseus who faked insanity to get out of going to Troy, and Achilles who disguised himself as a woman in order to get out of his fate of dying in Troy. Like Odysseus and Achilles, Oedipus also tries to fight his fate, but what separates Oedipus from other heroes is that in the end he accepts his fate and by doing so, purges his city of sin. Oedipus always hungers for the truth and when he finally discovers it he knows there is only one thing to do. Accept it. He decides to let [his] fate go where it will (73). He even blinds himself which is ironic because when he could see, he was ignorant and now that he knows the truth he can’t see. Lastly he banishes himself from the city and in doing so he cleanses his city from the plague and all evil.
What makes a hero a hero? Today the modern day Superman, Spiderman, and Batman are your so called heroes. However I wouldn’t consider any of these heroes at all. They have no flaws, no tough struggles. In order to be a hero I think you need to have suffered, to have been at your lowest, and to have overcome obstacles. Facing his fate, leaving Thebes and saving an entire city are a much harder task than flying around all day like Superman. As well put by Martin Luther King Jr. “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and conveniences, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” I think Oedipus is the ultimate measure of a man and from this story we learn how to face our struggles head on, admit when we are wrong, and do the right thing.
Evaluation of the Thebans’ High Regard Towards Oedipus
I believe that the Thebans have such a high opinion of Oedipus for several reasons that are revealed throughout Sophocles’ Oedipus The King. The first of these things is Oedipus’ strength of character and clear devotion to the city of Thebes and its people. Oedipus also saved the city from the Sphinx. We see the Thebans’ high opinion of Oedipus in several key scenes, firstly when the gathering of citizens comes to Oedipus for help in the beginning of the play, then when the Chorus’ representative deems him “first of men”. Next we see this when there is confusion over the identity of Oedipus’ parents, and the Chorus of Thebans immediately jumps to positive conclusions.
Oedipus’ strength of character is seen in his first appearance on stage at the beginning of the play. We see that the people of Thebes are being affected by a terrible plague that nobody knows how to solve, but Oedipus is already taking steps to solve it from the moment the play begins. He has sent Creon to ask the Oracle of Apollo at Delphi for help. This initiative immediately gladdens the Priest who represents the people, and as Creon arrives with apparently good news we can see why Oedipus has the respect of the Thebans. The fact that the citizens choose to immediately follow the lead of Oedipus and allow him to solve the mystery of the death of Laius as they die in the city shows their trust of him, and their high opinion of him His decisive nature could easily save hundreds of lives. We also see that the Thebans have such a high opinion of Oedipus when they name him as possibly being the son of a god, due to simply how amazing he is. There was also no doubt of their king in the minds of the Thebans when Oedipus’ birth was in question that he must have come from greatness in his past.
Another reason as to why the Thebans have such a high opinion of Oedipus is that he has previously come through for them in the past. The Priest gives the example of when Oedipus bravely defeated the Sphinx that was threatening their town, and killing anyone who tried to answer its riddle. Oedipus, an outsider at the time, won the trust of the town by volunteering the save the town by answering the riddle of the Sphinx in residence in the town’s temple. Oedipus was able to answer the riddle and banish the Sphinx, thus the people showed their now absolute trust in his abilities by naming him King of Thebes. As far as we can tell, the people have retained that high opinion of Oedipus thus far, as once again, he is the person they trust to rid them of Apollo’s plague. And even at the end, the people are reluctant to abandon Oedipus, and accept his downfall, such is their opinion of the now fallen man.
To conclude, by metaphor of the ship, Oedipus is described by the Priest as the guiding hand, carefully bringing the sinking ship that is Thebes through the storm of the plague, and out the other side, we can see by this metaphor that the people of Thebes have an extremely high opinion of Oedipus, which was earned by his actions with the Sphinx, and with his decisive and action oriented personality.
I would completely agree that it was because of Oedipus’ great qualities, that his downfall was inevitable. We see this in several ways, firstly because his great honour and allegiance to the wellbeing of Thebes and to his duty as king would never allow him to not pursue the mystery of Laius to the bitter end, whatever the consequences. I would also argue that if Oedipus had been a less honourable man, it would be extremely unlikely that he would have been so horrified his actions as to gouge out his own eyes in retribution. It is also his great intelligence and bravery that allowed him to kick-start all of these events.
Oedipus is portrayed as being extremely loyal to the people of Thebes in the play. We see this by his first action to defeat the Sphinx to gain their trust, and he manages to keep their trust as their king. This loyalty has resulted in the total trust by the people of Thebes that Oedipus can solve the enormous problem of the plague. I would argue that because Oedipus is so loyal to his people, that it would be impossible for him not to follow through to the end of the mystery, and find the murderer of Laius. His honour in following through on punishing his own actions by banishing himself from the city show this to be true. He creates a curse meant to punish the murderer of Laius, and once he realises that the murderer is himself, he accepts the punishment laid down in the curse. If he had not been so worried for the safety of his people that he would put such a curse on a murderer, he would not have been forced to comply with it himself, leading to his own ultimate downfall.
Oedipus’ dedication to solving the murder that affects his people shows his honour. He is perfectly willing to dedicate himself entirely to guiding the sinking ship of Thebes through the storm with no thought of self-preservation. In my opinion, Oedipus showed that he is a truly honourable man when he did follow that curse, only asking for the touch of his daughters as comfort. If he had not been so honourable as to create such a curse, he would not have been so affected by the actions he had taken before the Play’s events. His utter regret and horror at having married his own mother is reflected when he tries to kill her at the end of the play, and gouge out his own eyes in response to her suicide, this shows that he is honourable, as he has committed a horrific crime by doing so, and can only hurt himself to try and make up for it. His own honour leads to his blindness, and his eventual exile.
Oedipus is also an extremely intelligent, if brash individual. We see his intelligence when we are told that he solved the riddle of the sphinx that no other man could solve in the city, however in this same instance we see his brashness, his self-confidence. He goes in to a city he has little relation to, and immediately offers to risk his life to save it. This same quick decisive action, and intelligence combined is seen in his summoning of the prophet Tiresias, and his quick analysis of the situation once Tiresias begins accusing him of being a murderer. Though Oedipus draws the incorrect conclusion, it is clearly not just through paranoia, the prophet does not seem to have any love for Oedipus, and if Creon did indeed want to take the throne, this would be a prime opportunity for him to do so. His intelligence is what kick-starts the events of the play, without it he would be long gone from Thebes, and the plague may have destroyed it if Oedipus had not been found by whomever went to solve the murder of Laius. Oedipus own intelligence made him King of Thebes, after his brashness allowed him to kill the previous king in a bout of road rage. These two qualities are good qualities in a decisive king, however both lead to his ultimate downfall, and exile.
To conclude, the events in Oedipus The King by Sophocles follow a timeline of events that began with the great qualities of Oedipus, his intelligence in solving the riddle of the sphinx, his fierceness in battle which led to him being able to murder Laius and a retinue of guards, and his honour which forces him to follow the mystery to its ultimate conclusion. Without all of these great qualities, Oedipus’ downfall would have been far from inevitable.
The Execution of Knowledge in Genesis and Oedipus
The differing treatments of knowledge in the early stages of the Book of Genesis and in the tragedy Oedipus Rex reveal a fundamental difference in the representative traditions of Hebraism and Hellenism. Hebraic obedience to divine authority is the ‘true and righteous human way’ (Kass 68) while autonomous knowledge pursued outside divine prohibition is ‘deeply questionable and the likely source of all… unhappiness’ (Kass 64). In contrast, Oedipus’ pursuit of knowledge results in the tragic realization of his origins and self-punishment. However, Oedipus exhibits greatness ‘in virtue of his inner strength: strength to pursue the truth at whatever the personal cost, and strength to accept and endure it when found’ (Dodds 28), thus exemplifying the Hellenistic ardor for knowledge. In this paper, I will argue that while knowledge is indeed dangerous and may be harmful to the truth seeker himself, the pursuit of knowledge is justified if we can fully embrace the consequences of the knowledge. ‘Hellenism may thus actually serve the needs of Hebraism’ (Arnold 158) with regard to the virtue of the knowledge pursued, in so far that as is combined with Hebraic discretion and good judgement.
In Genesis 2, Hebraic obedience to divine authority is emphasized through the explicit commandment not to eat from the ‘tree of the knowledge of good and evil’ (2:9), and the downfall of man upon transgression of the commandment clearly illustrates the dangers of disobedience to divine authority. However, I will also argue that the story of the Fall of Man does not oppose the pursuit of knowledge in itself, only that it underscores the fallibility of autonomous human reasoning against divine commandment.
The Hebraic God does not prohibit human reasoning and knowledge, unless it seeks to exist independently of divine authority. In Genesis 2, man is said to be made in the image of God, which means that he possesses the ability to exercise speech and reason, freedom in doing and making, powers of contemplation, judgment and care (Kass 38). However, it is in man’s development of practical reasoning through naming, language, rationalization and questioning that he misuses his faculties of reasoning and transgresses, resulting in this ‘radical self-consciousness’ (Kass 89) that is the consequence of autonomous knowledge. This ‘radical self-consciousness’ is the full development of the awareness in differences between binary opposites, an awareness that is finally illuminated after man’s transgression, causing his own separation and fall. As Leon Kass explains, the naming of animals is an exercise of man’s first use of reasoning, ‘for the ability to name rests on the rational capacity for recognizing otherness and sameness’ (74). While this act in itself does not give rise to prohibited knowledge, it awakens consciousness in man, as man is given the ability to project independent and subjective knowledge unto the objective reality that he encounters, ultimately giving rise to the ability to gain autonomous knowledge.
Language is the subsequent demonstration of man’s reasoning, and it is misused as a tool for distorting and misrepresenting divine commandments. The serpent manipulates language to the effect of inducing the woman to question God’s divine prohibition, posing a question that alludes to undermining the authority of divine commandment: ‘Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden?’ (3:1) It is clear that the serpent has no intention of clarifying the commandment, but rather in provoking outrage and incredulity towards the need to obey. Language is thus used as a tool of provoking self-awareness and questioning objective statements or commandments. The serpent also uses language to superficially distort the meaning of God’s commandments. In saying that ‘You will not surely die’ (3:4), the serpent is ‘both right and wrong’ (Buber 44), as the first humans merely comprehend the knowledge of death to come. Furthermore, the serpent introduces the notion that God’s motive for prohibition is largely selfish, as eating from the tree would cause the man and woman to ‘be like God, knowing good and evil’ (3:5). In a single sentence, he undermines God’s authority and promotes autonomy. Encouraged by the serpent’s call for rebellion, the woman sees the tree for what it is ‘apart from the prohibition’ (White 135). As a result, she begins to view the tree with subjective independent desire as White explains, through ‘non-verbal perceptual experience, simple awareness of possibility and the force of desire’ (135). The strength of this desire that is born from newfound consciousness thus culminates in her independent judgment that the tree was ‘good for food… a delight to the eyes… desired to make one wise’ (3:6). Within the same sentence, the transgression of her eating the fruit and offering it to her husband occurs, indicating quick successive action.
The act of choosing freely for oneself is thus portrayed as the cause of the Fall of Man: ‘Any free choice implies reaching for and acting on our own knowledge of good or bad’ (Kass 65), and this ultimately points to the fallibility of human reasoning and the importance of divine obedience. Naming and the development of language amount to a misuse and disabuse of practical reasoning against better judgment. The serpent facilitates the development of a consciousness that appeals to an independent and subjective interpretation of the tree beyond divine prohibition, leading up to the transgression and fall of Man.
Beyond pointing to the fallibility of human reasoning, the story of Genesis 3 underscores the material consequences of transgression against divine obedience, which was that ‘Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked’ (3:7). This discovery of nakedness is only possible through the ‘knowledge of oppositeness’ (Buber 46), as they come to the realization of the ‘ill or evil’ in the state of unclothedness. Nakedness which was meant to be their natural state of perfection, is now a perceived defect and imperfection, ‘a badness of our own nature… the mind’s first judgmental and shame-inducing discovery’ (Kass 67). As a result, this ‘radical self-consciousness’ is produced in us, and then induces a constant state of anxiety and imperfectability. This realization of deficiency in relation to divinity is aptly summed up by Hugh C. White as an eternal struggle defined by ‘narcissistic conflict with their opposites… a humbling inferiority that they will desire but never attain.. superiority’ (White 137). Thus, the story of the Fall of Man negatively presents the pursuit of autonomous knowledge and its fruits, that such parts of life will only give rise to inner conflict and dissatisfaction.
Initially, Oedipus Rex is the traditional embodiment of the Hellenistic thirst for knowledge; however, through the tragic turn of events, Sophocles offers a ‘critique of impure reason’ (Lear 194), a superficial ‘knowingness’ (196) that comes from Oedipus’ lack of awareness of the terrible knowledge that he is seeking. I will thus argue that the tragic realization of identity adds a caveat to the valorized Hellenistic pursuit of knowledge, that the discovered truths do not necessarily lead to the best consequences. Nonetheless, a man’s strength lies in the endurance of such terrible truths.
The initial ‘knowingness’ of Oedipus is a commitment to the pursuit of a superficial kind of knowledge, the kind of knowledge that already conforms to Oedipus’ own truths and beliefs. The very name ‘Oedipus,’ translated as ‘know foot,’ is an example of man’s triumph of intelligence against the monstrosity of the Sphinx (Segal 41). It is a mark of pride that the protagonist is able to solve the riddle, ‘the flight of [his] own intelligence that hit the mark’ (453). Yet the double meanings of his name as ‘swell foot’ (oidein, pous) and ‘know where’ (oida pou) invokes the greater mystery of his own identity and origins (Segal 141), knowledge that has eluded him till now. Thus, his claim to knowledge and intelligence is limited at this point precisely because he is lacking in personal knowledge.
This self-serving pursuit of knowledge plays out in the quest to find the king’s murderer. When the prophet Tiresias does not speak, Oedipus retaliates with immediate anger and comes to the rash conclusion that Tiresias is in conspiracy with Creon to blame Oedipus for the murder. Ironically, he refutes and taunts Tiresias’ claim to know the truth on the basis of his physical blindness, ‘You’ve lost your power, stone-blind, stone-deaf—senses, eyes blind as stone!’ (422-2) Furthermore, he continues to dismiss Creon’s attempts to explain the falsity of his conspiracy delusion, in his response ‘but I’ll be slow to learn—from you. I find you a menace’ (611-12). His sheer determination to attain the truth thus obscures and hinders his finding of the truth, so that any challenge or obstacle to his quest (such as Tiresias) is immediately ignored and thrown aside.
Upon realization of the truth, Oedipus perceives his metaphorical blindness to his own personal knowledge. In his act of self-blinding, he renounces his reliance on intelligence and reasoning, which once hindered him from ‘seeing’ the truth. His self-blinding, prophesied by blind Tiresias, ‘with darkness on your eyes, that now have such straight vision’ (454), indicates an attempt to exchange his physical sight for his metaphorical blindness. The act of self-blinding can be seen as a symbolic negation of his pride and arrogance in his ‘knowingness,’ a negation of oida, the very quality of ‘knowing,’ which also comes from the root word of ‘I have seen’ (Segal 42). Thus, we may understand that Oedipus renounces the superficial knowledge seeking that he had previously relied on.
Yet the play also affirms the greatness of Oedipus as he displays consistent persistence in uncovering the truth, and a respectable fortitude in enduring and accepting the terrible truth. He assumes full responsibility for the transgression that he has committed, and imposes impartial punishment on himself, ‘Take me away, far, far from Thebes’ (1477), as well as ownership of his destiny in saying ‘It’s mine alone, my destiny – I am Oedipus!’ (1446) Although his fate seems to demand great pity from the audience, Oedipus emerges heroic; his acceptance and embrace of his demise is at once humanistic and noble, since he has faced the consequences of uncovering a painful truth. Consequently, Oedipus Rex can be seen as largely Hebraic in its conception that human reasoning is ultimately fallible, condemning hubristic overconfidence in human ‘knowingness,’ while favoring humble religious submission (Lear 198). At the same time, it draws upon elements of Hellenism as it lauds those who seek knowledge with the ability to fully endure and accept the consequences of such a pursuit.
The Fall of Man similarly follows the vein of Hebraic cautiousness with regard to the pursuit of autonomous knowledge. The fallibility of human reasoning, as demonstrated in the abuse of language leading to transgression and the resulting ‘radical self-consciousness,’ is the cause of inherent dissatisfaction and anxiety in man. Thus, while it does not condemn knowledge and reasoning, this narrative presents autonomous knowledge outside divine probation as problematic and unnatural within the divine order.
While both Genesis and Oedipus Rex indicate the fallibility of human reasoning, the Oedipus conception of truth is optimistic in that it presents a solution to the problematic dilemma of human suffering as a result of autonomous knowledge. Under these ideas, human grace and dignity can be achieved through the stoic acceptance of the consequences. In such an understanding, a Hellenistic acceptance of the consequences of autonomous knowledge can serve as a realistic fallback in failing to abide with Hebraic obedience and judgement.
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. Wheaton: Good News Publishers, 2001. Print.
Arnold, Matthew. “Hebraism and Hellenism” in Culture and Anarchy, ed. by William S. Knickerbocker. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1925. 128-143. Print.
Kass, Leon. The Beginning of Wisdom: Reading Genesis. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2003. Print.
White, Hugh C. Narration and Discourse in the Book of Genesis. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991. Print.
Buber, Martin. “The Tree of Knowledge: Genesis 3” in Genesis ed. Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1987. 43-8. Print.
Oedipus’ fate will he will be him murdering his father and marrying his mother-this is supposedly due to a curse that was placed on his family, when previous generation tried to oppose the gods-this shows how society is based on the gods, each god had power on different roles of life. The people of Greece would live there lives their life strongly enduring to the gods. In Oedipus rex the gods seen to be very powerful and well respected and provide a theme throughout the book as to what exactly effects our density and is it all written in the stars? In the play, the entire plot centres around a God-given prophesy (or spoken fate), that Oedipus would one day kill his father and marry his mother. His parents immediately attempt to protect their child from this fate and order his death. The baby is not killed, however, and grows up to fulfil the exact details of the prophesy.
As in most of the Greek literature and the culture of ancient Greece, the roll of the gods here is a higher power believed to be in control of human density. The ancient Greeks believed the gods controlled everything, from the season and weather, to prosperity and poverty. I learnt that all of the gods respected and worshiped the gods as a sign of respect and life in general.
Oedipus is desperate to avoid fate, possessing hubris, no humility shunned in the ancient Greek era. In the play, the entire plot centres around a God-given prophesy (or spoken fate), that Oedipus would one day kill his father and marry his mother. His parents immediately attempt to protect their child from this fate and order his death. The baby is not killed, however, and grows up to fulfil the exact details of the prophesy. Which they distinguished the outcome and didn’t take any action, for that the prophecy happened, this has told me no matter what you can’t escape fate and that gods will/can do anything. Belief in Greek philosophy is the belief that someone’s fate is pre-determined and unchangeable.
The tragedy of Oedipus
The tragedy of Oedipus the King by Sophocles, is a story of a man named Oedipus who becomes king, and through a series of events, ultimately meets his downfall. Through his display of hubris and hamartia throughout the play, Oedipus has risen and fallen. Oedipus” misfortune has been argued as “some error of judgement of frailty”, or if he is just a tragic hero doomed with a tragic flaw. A tragic hero is “the protagonist, the hero or chief character of a tragedy, is a person of high estate, usually a king, queen, or member of the royal family, who is neither superlatively good and just not wholly vicious and depraved, but who is brought low by some error of judgment or shortcoming”.
In Oedipus Rex, a play written by Sophocles, Oedipus” hubris and hamartia eventually lead him to his downfall, making him a tragic hero. The first quality of Oedipus that justifies him as a tragic hero is his hubris. Hubris is defined by the Webster-Merriam dictionary as “Exaggerated pride or confidence”. Oedipus is a proud man; praised as the King of Thebes and the defeater of the Sphinx, but it is his pride, his own belief that he is a good man who is favored by the gods. As the Chorus said, “Pride breeds the tyrant violent pride, gorging, crammed to bursting with all that is overripe and rich with ruin—clawing up to the heights, headlong pride crashes down the abyss—sheer doom!” (ln 963-967).
In his attempt to find the facts to prove he is favored by the gods, he only proves to himself that he suffers from a cruel fate. Oedipus” hubris also influences him to fulfill the oracle and further intensify his punishment from the Gods. Even before Oedipus came into power as the King of Thebes, he allowed his arrogance to control his judgment and reign over his actions. Although he has enough reverence to the deities not to assume himself to be an equal with the gods, but greater than them it is clear that Oedipus perceives himself to be of a greater importance than the lesser mortals that surround him. As he said, “One of you summon the city here before us, tell them I’ll do everything. God help us, we will see our triumph-or our fall” (ln 163-165). He is conceited to think that he can shape his own destiny and the gods can punish him for this arrogance. Another quality of Oedipus that confirms the idea of him being a tragic hero is his hamartia. Hamartia is defined as a personal error in a protagonist’s personality, which brings about his tragic downfall in a tragedy. The defect in a hero’s personality is also known as their “tragic flaw”. One of Oedipus” tragic flaws displayed in the tragedy is his lack of self-knowledge. When he hears the story of how the king, Laius, was brutally murdered, Oedipus is eager to get to the bottom of the story and find the person who is guilty. He never wonders if it is him, even though he knows he murdered a man not very long ago. When Oedipus is confronted by Tiresias about the murder of Laius, he is shocked and appalled that someone would say such a thing about him, showing that he feels he can do no wrong. He becomes outraged and says to Tiresias, “You, shameless- aren’t you appalled to start up such a story? You think you can get away with this?” (ln 356-357) and ultimately starts to put the blame on Tiresias.
This shows that Oedipus cannot look inside himself to find the truth, and he does not want to know the truth about himself. Also Oedipus states, “Lost in the night, endless night that nursed you! You can’t hurt me or anyone else who sees the light—you can never touch me” (ln 879-880). This furthers the fact that Oedipus was made a fatal mistake in his understanding of the information. He kills his own father and marries his mother out of ignorance. He has set a curse on the man who kills his father, not knowing that it is he who has done so, creating his own downfall. The theme of Oedipus plays a great role in proving how Oedipus is a tragic hero, doomed with a tragic flaw. The theme of “the limits of free will” is described as the power of acting without the constraint of necessity or fate; the ability to act at one’s own discretion. It is difficult to say how justly one can accuse Oedipus of being “blind” or foolish when he seems to have no choice about fulfilling the prophecy. As Teiresias said to Oedipus, “I have no more to say; storm as thou willst, and give the rein to all thy pent-up rage” (ln 341-347). Regardless of what Oedipus does or says, fate will always play itself out. Similarly as Jocasta says to Oedipus, . “A prophet! Husband, listen to Me. No human being on Earth need fear what prophets say. I’ll prove it. A prophet came to Laius Not God, a prophet only and told him that one day his son…” (ln 707-725).
Jocasta is trying to explain to Oedipus that the prophecy could not possibly be true and that he should not worry about such a thing. She is bringing him to the realization that fate will happen regardless of what others say or do. Oedipus seems only to desire to flee his fate, but his fate continually catches up with him. Oedipus, a man who becomes King and through a series of events, ultimately meets his downfall has been argued as “some error of judgement of frailty”, or if he is a tragic hero unfortunately doomed with a tragic flaw. Through Oedipus” elements of hubris and hamartia, he eventually meets his downfall, deeming him a tragic hero.
The Representation Of Oedipus Complex In Lion King Movie
Sigmund Freud titled the Oedipus complex after a man named Oedipus who accidentally kills his father and marries his mother. Once Oedipus realizes what he has done, he pokes his eyes out and becomes blind. Similar to Oedipus, the concept claims that young boys feel sexually attracted to their mother’s and feel hatred and jealousy towards their father. These negative feelings are due to their need to possess their mother exclusively, without having to share that love. No matter how the boy feels though, society views incest as an appalling attribute, and therefore boys must learn to suppress their lewd attraction.
A child’s love for his mother is never seen as unconventional, however, Simba’s infatuation for his mother seems considerably incestuous. A subtle evidence of Simba’s tainted affection can be detected in the waterhole scene, where Simba’s desire to be king is boldly displayed through his song “I just can’t wait to be king”. His wish may appear to be an innocent one until further analysis, one begins to see the hidden malevolent behind this yearning. The desire present within Simba can only be fulfilled as soon as the current king, his father, has either stepped down willingly or is no longer breathing. Furthermore, Simba’s excitement to become king only emerges once his father had mentioned that everything Mufasa currently owns within Pride Rock, including his mother, would one day be his. Simba’s obsession to become king is his way of expressing his wish of replacing his father.
Another indication of his inappropriate fondness can be seen when Simba and Nala escape towards what they believed was an elephant graveyard. Simba’s persistence to visit the elephant graveyard, after being told not to by both his father and Zazu, is perceived as his attempt to compete with his father and show his bravery; perhaps in the pursuit of his mother’s love. However, this desire of his is crushed as Simba is unable to protect himself or his friends from the hyenas’ without the help of Mufasa. The following scene emphasizes Simba placing his tiny paw upon his father’s larger paw print. This image presented in front of the cub coerces him to understand that Mufasa is notably bigger and stronger than him. This realization not only deflates Simba’s ego but forces the cub to make an important decision- to challenge his father or to become alike with him.
As the old adage goes “if you can’t beat them, join them”, Simba begins the process of identification by mimicking the attributes of his father. Eventually, Simba impersonates his father so well that when he returns to Pride Rock in the last few scenes to reclaim his kingdom, his mother mistakes Simba for Mufasa.
The Females Portrayed in Greek Literature based on Odyssey, Oedipus Rex, The Apology, and the Writings of Sapphos
The woman in Greece is depicted in the accounts of Odysseus, Oedipus, Apology and the writings of Sapphos based on their roles and functions in the present day Greek society as wife and mother, and based on their characteristics as impulsive and irrational, sentimental, and passionate, cruel and kind. Women wield no power beyond the confines of the home. These views are of course founded upon the opinions of the male-dominated society and so this perspective is takes on a patriarchal slant. Women, whether human or goddess, share qualities and condition: eroticism, sensuality, maternal instinct, subordination by men,
In Greece, women are wives and mothers, bound to honour, respect, serve and be faithful to their husbands and to raise their children. Wifehood is assumed for most Greek women. Wifehood and motherhood are regarded as the universally accepted and noble station of the woman. Being unmarried in Greece is unthinkable and barrenness means shame, and disgrace. Odysseus foresees the doom of his ill-fated daughters who will suffer in the future for his blind mistakes. No honourable and decent man marries maidens who have a tarnished family name and whose parents bear a curse. Odysseus laments for the fate of his daughters Antigone and Ismene for “such reproach must still be yours to virgin solitude…and a barren bed.”
On the other hand, while in Hades, a theogony of some gods is presented to us which is made possible through marriage and conception. Penelope is a paragon of Greek femininity for she represents the virtuous, loyal and dutiful Greek wife and the maternal, caring, nurturing parent. When Laius dies, his widow Jocasta is given to Oedipus for wife and when Odyssey is assumed dead, many suitors clamour Penelope pressing her to marry them. Parent in the theogony are married and fertile women who bare children – a function inextricable from the function as wife. The titles and functions of the wife and mother are not merely for the Greek society’s gain but for the personal survival of the female as well. Without a husband, women sink “in penury and woe.” Oedipus begs Creon to take care of his orphaned and unmarried daughters for he knows that without a husband they have to struggle for survival.
In Greece, women are perceived as wives who can be most treacherous, crafty and deceitful to their husbands. Greek men are wary of their wives who are always prone to be unfaithful to them and to dishonour their name. Sapphos, famous female Greek poet, draws from her own experience and the stereotype of Greek society. “Young brides have hearts that can be persuaded easily, light things, palpitant to passion” (Sappho). Hence one observes that Greek husbands are always suspicious of their covert, subtle wives. In Odysseus, the warning of Agamemnon reverberates with truth for his wife, Clytemnestra’s infidelity and spousal murder. Alluding to the treachery of his own wife plotting his downfall with her lover, Aegisthus, Agamemnon warns that there is no more faith in woman.” Indeed, Clytemnestra is characterized as a “crafty” and “brutal woman.” In Theogony, Earth plots the punishment and castration of her own husband, Heaven, with her children thus an example clarifies and confirms the lack of confidence Greek husbands reposed in their wives.
Women of Greece are perceived as wives who can be the most treacherous, crafty and deceitful to their husbands and in whom lay the pernicious potential to betray her honour. Men are wary of their wives who are always prone to be unfaithful to them and dishonour their name. Sapphos, famous female Greek poet, draws from her own experience and the stereotyped image of the wife in Greek society, relates that “young brides have hearts that can be persuaded easily, light things, palpitant to passion.” Hence, one observes that Greek husbands are always suspicious of their subtle wives. In Odysseus, the warning of Agamemnon reverberates and supports this view of women because of Clytamnestra’s (his wife’s) own infidelity and his murder at her hands. Alluding to his wife’s extramarital affair with her paramour Aegisthus, Agamemnon strongly maintains that “there is no more faith in woman” (Odysseus). Clytamnestra is characterized as a “crafty” and “brutal woman.”
Greek women are viewed as fickle, temperamental, irrational and evil. Circe, Calypso, and Sphinx are all women who thwart the efforts of man, blight good fortune and make irrational decisions. Circe is the witch-goddess who transforms Odysseus’ crew into swine but then retransforms them, sumptuously banquets them and releases the men because of Odysseus’ request and persuasion after detaining them for a year. Calypso is a nymph goddess who holds Odysseus captive for seven years but who liberates him due to the appeal and persuasion of Hermes. The Sphinx terrorizes and devours the men of Thebes who are unable to answer her riddle but after Oedipus solves the riddle, she kills herself and therefore ceases to be a threat to the city. All of these females share one common denominator that is that they are all impulsive, capricious, and are at times cruel and kind. They inflict suffering and bestow good on mankind hence women are here portrayed as flighty and again untrustworthy because of these attributes.
Women are powerless creatures and have no vested authority to take part in the public life which includes the processes of making important decisions. In Apology, before the court of justice and the body, the Council of five-hundred constitutes only the male Greek citizens. Socrates appeals to this council of men when he is accused of treason. The divine council of the gods at Mount Olympus, where Zeus (male) presides is also comprised solely of male members. The only female present who is allowed voice is Athena and that is because she is Zeus daughter. Queen Penelope has virtually no power to wield in the absence of her husband for the state of the household and nation is in disarray. Although she bears the title of queen which provides and invests in her authority, she is very limited in her powers to assert her wishes in the court and in the land. Suitors anxiously await Penelope to choose a husband and king for they too are cognizant of the fact that she cannot bear sway alone. Queen Jocasta has no regal authority either for alone, without the support of the governing power of her deceased husband King Laius she cannot assume power alone. She is wedded to Oedipus and only through him is her authority validated.
The Idea of Fate and Free Will in Oedipus Rex by Sophocles
In the play “Oedipus Rex”, Sophocles shows a hidden connection between man’s free will and fate which the Greek accepted to guide the universe amicable reason. A man was allowed to pick and eventually considered liable for his own behavior. Both the idea of fate and free will had an integral impact on Oedipus’ fall. In spite of the fact that he was a casualty of fate, he was not constrained by it. Oedipus was fated from birth to marry his mom and to kill his dad. This prophecy, as cautioned by the prophet of Apollo at Delphi was not open to more than one interpretation and cannot be avoided. These events would happen, regardless of what he may have done to maintain a strategic distance in order to avoid it. His past activities were controlled by fate, yet what he did in Thebes, he did as such of his own volition.
From the earliest starting point of this catastrophe, Oedipus took numerous activities leading his very own destruction. Oedipus could have trusted that the plague would end, yet out of empathy for his enduring individuals, he had Creon, the brother of Queen Jocasta go to Delphi. At the point when he learned of Apollo’s promise, he could have been in a calm and peaceful manner examined the homicide of the previous King Laius. Yet in his quickness, he energetically curses the killer, and in this way, unwittingly curses himself, “I curse the doer, whether he worked alone or evaded us with accomplices, that he wear out his unlucky life as badly as he himself is bad. And I pray, if he should be known to me and share in my hearth among my family, that I suffer all that I called upon these”. As Oedipus wishes misfortune upon the killer, he does that to himself. He trusts and predicts that the killer’s life would be long and anguishing. Sophocles shows a connection between man’s free will and fate by having Oedipus carry out his own prophecy starting with his personal desire to seek out the killer of King Laius.
Oedipus’s venture looking for Laius’ killer has only helped the prophecy become a reality. His obliviousness, pride and callous journey for reality added to his devastation. After threatening Tiresias, a blind prophet of Apollo in Thebes, an unequivocal model can be seen when Oedipus was told that he was at fault for Laius’ homicide. Oedipus got maddened and considered the visually impaired prophet a liar. Oedipus figured he could conquer the divine beings. However, all his activities drew him nearer to his fate. After uncovering the reality of his introduction to the world from the shepherd, Oedipus shouts out, “Let it all burst out, if it must! As for me, though it be small, I wish to know my stock. But she, since a woman is proud of such things, she is troubled by this low birth of mine. But I deem myself the child of Chance, who gives good things, and I will not be dishonored. She is my mother, and my brothers, the Months, have seen me both small and great. Being born what I am, I could never be another, so I should seek out my descent”. While Oedipus’s fate of killing his father and sleeping with his mother is sealed, he only learns that he has fulfilled his fate through persistent searching. Oedipus’ unwavering drive to reveal the reality with regards to Laius’ homicide and the secret encompassing his own introduction to the world, drove him to the heartbreaking acknowledgment of his horrendous deeds. Therefore, it is the fault of Oedipus’s own will that the tragedy is discovered, and not the fault of fate.
Sophocles supports fate by featuring to the audience the decline that Oedipus encounters. The chorus indicates the unexpected results in loss of respect and support, saying, “The generations of man — while you live, I count you as worthless, equal to nothing. For who, what man wins more happiness than just its shape and the ruin when that shape collapses?”. Oedipus acknowledges his fate and never again attempts to keep away from it. The achievements of Oedipus generally don’t pile up too much in contrast with the bigger issues of fate set against him. Oedipus demonstrates to be a person who needs to come to such an acknowledgment in the fiercest of habits. At last, his very own feeling of joy was a deception, broken by the truth of what defied him. He couldn’t consider himself to be a human with physical sight. Consequently, blinds himself, so as to become more noteworthy in vision into his own feeling of his place in the world. This draws out the situation of Oedipus just as the thematic reality that oversees the play. Sophocles’ vision of mankind is one in which nearsightedness rules, reflecting how people see the issue of their own bliss as being genuine, yet in fact is simply frustrated. The way in which Oedipus’ processed his thoughts in executing his dad, Laius, and wedding his mom, Jocasta, doesn’t detract from the awful idea of the wrongdoings. Oedipus is tolerating the full weight of his actions and realizes that he should be at fault for his wrongdoings. Along these lines, Oedipus’s annihilation was brought about by his freedom. However, his lamentable fate came about on account of the idea that no matter how many attempts he had to change his fate, his destiny was already shaped by the divine beings in human issues. So as to support a ‘moral lesson’ to not defy the divine beings and dodge your fate.
Throughout the hundreds of years, individuals have considered the impact of celestial power, condition, hereditary qualities, even stimulations, as deciding how free an individual is in settling on moral decisions. The ancient Greeks recognized the job of fate as a reality outside the person that forms and decides human life. In current occasions, the idea of fate has built up of sentimental predetermination. There are numerous spirits with whom we have gone into soul contracts with more than a few lifetimes. Together we consent to run into each other regularly. Frequently these spirits have a lot to show us in soul-development terms – that is a piece of the agreement and there’s no uncertainty we regularly do our most noteworthy development seeing someone. In any case, that experiencing these spirits is fated or part of our predetermination, we generally have an unrestrained choice. We can pick whether we engage with them or not, and to what extent we stay in the relationship. Soul agreements can be changed whenever. For there is just a single uncommon perfect partner who can make us really upbeat. All of us have numerous unique soul associations with others fashioned over numerous lifetimes. It’s unmistakably no better to have a fate or a development conviction. We have a bound for development conviction that works over all parts of our lives. At the point when we consider ourselves to satisfy a fate that remembers development for all parts of our lives – including our connections, we set up a conviction framework that permits genuine bounty for every one of us.
Contest With Past In Oedipus Rex By Sophocles
Effects of the past have come and affected people’s present as well as their future. In Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex, the reader sees how no matter how hard Oedipus himself tried to escape his past, it only caught up him sooner or later. Oedipus was sentenced with a prophecy at birth, due to this prophecy his past catches gig to him throughout time. The prophecy was that Oedipus will kill his father, the king, and marry his mother, the queen. Both his parents wanted to make sure this did not happen, that they would somehow end the prophecy before it became true. By Oedipus parents trying their best to end the prophecy and that is where the whole mess begins, some readers believe this prophecy would end up happening one way or another. No one can escape their fate, what is meant to be will be. Another thing that in ways ruined Oedipus life and let things to the way they that happened was his tragic flaw, this added a lot of heat to the fire as it is. Oedipus Rex contends with his past because of his prophecy, his parents, and unfortunately his tragic flaw, although when Oedipus did do his duties as King and focuses on his parents.
Back in 441 B.C the Greeks strongly believed a person’s fate was determined even before birth. A person’s fate was set in stone and there was nothing anyone can do to change that. In Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex, the main character Oedipus decided to take matters into his own hands as scholars have looked into. As stated in the literary journal Antigone’s Flaw, “Upon hearing the Delphic prophecy of patricide and incest, the well-intentioned Oedipus took radical steps to thwart fate – fleeing his parents and his home in Corinth”. As soon as Oedipus came to learn about his prophecy and his fate that will soon be upon him, he did everything in his power to stop it. Oedipus believed by running away from who he believed were his parents, would help him stop the prophecy but little did he know that is one of the reason his prophecy actually came true. The Greeks strongly believe that a person is born with their fate already determined for them and there is nothing a person can do to change your fate. As Oedipus tries to run away from his fate, he finds the King of Thebes who in fact is his real father. Without even knowing it Oedipus kills him, making part of the prophecy come true. After this happens Oedipus becomes the king of Thebes and marries the Queen who is actually his biological mother. As stated once again in the literally journal Antigone’s Flaw, “After Oedipus became King of Thebes, Delphi some again, suggesting that the only way to end a serve blight plaguing Thebes was avenge the murder of the former king, Laius”. This was set in stone in the prophecy and Oedipus went in with his life not knowing what he really he did. Oedipus later on even goes out of his way to find king Laius killer when little did he know it was him all along. Unfortunately for Oedipus the prophecy is not the only thing from his past to catch up to him.
Whether people believe it or not, parents are the biggest influence a child’s life but unfortunately for Oedipus his parents’ belief about the prophecy was stronger than their love for him. Both the King and Queen did anything in their power to make sure the prophecy on their end would not happen. Readers believe that what the King and Queen did to their son Oedipus was inhuman. Oedipus parents did not want to kill their son themselves so instead they got a servant to kill him on a mountain but the servant himself felt bad and gave the baby to the King and Queen of Corinth and that is where the mess begins. The King and Queen have no idea that their plan did not work to their advantage but instead made the prophecy come true years later. Due to the King and Queen doing anything in their power to stop the prophecy, only made the prophecy come true. Once Oedipus found out about the prophecy, he decided to leave Corinth way from who he thought were his parents all his life in order for this prophecy not to come true. Some readers believe the King and Queen of Thebes, better known as Oedipus biological parents are the real reason the prophecy did end up coming true. They both tried so hard to stop it that it ended up happening. Readers believe that if Oedipus would have known who his real parents were all along there would have been a lower chance but the prophecy actually coming true. At the end this whole mess is ultimately the King and Queen’s fault and they all pay for it at the end. The King and Queen of Corinth took pity of Oedipus and adopted him, they named him after his ankle wounds, his name means “swollen foot”. When the truth finally came out the Queen flees the science in distress and kills herself, she hangs herself in her chamber. After finding his dead wife as well as mother he tears out two golden pins from her gown and pricks his eyes . Oedipus’ parents might had played a huge factor in the prophecy coming true trying their best to stop it but then there Teiresias and Creon who knew the truth and refused to Just say it from the beginning. Everyone played a key role to this tragic story and everyone paid their dues at the end of the day. It is ironic how it all turns out, Oedipus and his parents all tried so hard to stop the prophecy from coming true and everything they did only made it happen. There was no way for Oedipus to escape his fate nor running away from his past, things only caught up to him. What is meant to be will be, no matter what the situation is. Sometimes running away from the past can only makes things worse in the long run. That is something Oedipus unfortunately had no idea he was doing, not knowing the truth about his biological parents is what started this whole mess in the first place. When looking at this story a little more closely, some readers believe the prophecy was always really meant to happen the way it did and no one knew it so Oedipus, as well as his biological parents tried to stop it this way instead but it only came back to them in the long run.
Oedipus’ tragic flaw only added more heat to the fire. Some readers believe that his tragic flaw is only a result of all the things he has gone through in his life. In literary journal Abraham and Oedipus: Paradigms of Comedic and Tragic Belief, it is even stated that “Oedipus emerges as a tragedy of belief…. And it is in pathos of his belief that Oedipus wins sympathy and breaks hearts”. Oedipus Rex was written as a tragedy. Some readers see Oedipus to be naïve and that it is another reason why the prophecy ended up coming true. Not once did Oedipus stop and think to connect the dots and see what was right in front of him this whole time. His whole life was a lie but his biggest flaw was his temper, anger and blindness to the truth. Those three things led him to not only his prophecy coming true but his own death. Oedipus had a really bad anger and temper which he at times could not control and would let it get the best of him. The perfect example of this was when he found out the prophecy came true and indeed he was King Laius, his father’s real killer. Oedipus vowed to everyone including the Queen he would find the King’s killer or anyone helping the killer and would have them pay for what they did but little did he know it was him all along. When it comes to Oedipus and his tragedies, Diderot’s Tableaux, Greek Tragic Form and Gengangere, “It is a different kind of tragedy, whose shape is not the protagonist’s search for self-truth, but rather the revelation of the consequences of her rejecting that truth in favor of the world’s demands..”. This article is explaining how Oedipus tragedies did not come from what necessarily happened but the consequences of those things and how he reacted to it all with his anger and bad temper. Tragedy places a really big role in this story but Oedipus is not the only one affected by it. Oedipus had children with his wife Queen Jocasta, who also happens to be his own mother. At the end those kids not only have the same mother and grandmother but have also lost their parents. Queen Jocasta ends her life due to finding out the truth then Oedipus on the other hand stabbed his eyes out and exiled from Thebes away from his kids. This would be a perfect example of a time where Oedipus did not know how to handle his anger and bad temper. It is a known fact that Teiresias and Creon knew all along the truth and that the prophecy had come true. Oedipus, Teiresias and Creon did not have the best relationship, there were multiple times when Oedipus took out his anger for any reason on either one of them. In fact Oedipus calls Creon a trader and believed both Creon and Teiresias were plotting against him. Even though they did not have the best relationship when Oedipus’ second prophecy was coming true and had stabbed his eyes out, he made Creon promise him to look after his kids who had done nothing wrong in this whole mess and Creon agreed. The complex nature of Oedipus’ hamartia, is also important. The Greek term hamartia, typically translated as ‘tragic flaw’. It is closer in meaning to a mistake or an error, failing, rather than just flaw. Oedipus fits this, for his basic flaw is his lack of knowledge about his own identity. Oedipus great downfall is due to his tragic flaw, it gives a sense of pity towards him, first he blinds himself instead of killing himself and will suffer eternal suffering.
Even though Oedipus had his major downfalls, he did do all his duties as king of Thebes. He did everything he could for the people of Thebes, the Queen and even tries to get justice for the King’s murder. Oedipus’ story is very ironic and tragic, readers have sympathy and pity for him even with his flaws. Through it all Oedipus is a perfect example of a tragic hero, he went against all odds and the Gods to try and avoid the prophecy from coming true even though, it back fired on him and his past caught up to him. After the first prophecy cams true then came another one which was a result of the first one. The second prophecy was given by Teiresias, he knew all along the first prophecy had indeed come true. In other words the second prophecy talks about how once the truth comes out about the first prophecy, Oedipus will be exiled from Thebes to never return, he will leave his kids and suffer eternal pain forever. Oedipus does go through a change at the end of the story once he finds out the truth and sees it was all in front of him all along. Oedipus was naïve and blind to the truth all along, he really tried the best he could with what was given to him. Oedipus tried his best to escape not only his past but his destiny as well. Greek Gods are strong believers in destiny and believe a person’s destiny is set and stone at birth and there is nothing that person can do to change it. Meaning no matter what Oedipus would have done differently or in this case any other character would have done differently, the prophecy would some way still have come true. Even though the prophecy was bound to happen there were certain events that only made matters worse and made this story even more tragic for everyone involved. That being Oedipus’ flaws, his temper and his anger only made matters worse and harder on everyone around him. His temper and anger were his reactions to everything that was happening around him, as well as all the vibes and thoughts he had but never would he had imagine this was the truth behind it all. Oedipus strongly believed characters like Teiresias and Creon just simply did not want him as King of Thebes and that they were plotting against him when in reality they both just knew the truth but did not speak up about it once they both connected all the dots. Unfortunately for Oedipus he had no one would was really one hundred percent on his side, making him realize what was right in front of him and guide him in the right direction. Instead he had himself and let his bad temper and anger get the best of him.
Oedipus Rex is contends with his past because of his prophecy, his parents, and unfortunately his tragic flaw, although when Oedipus did do his duties as King and focuses on his parents. It is no secret that no matter how hard a person tried to escape their past, it will always catch up to them. Oedipus is a perfect example of this, even though he himself did not even know he was running away from his past it sill caught up to him. Even though readers pity Oedipus he is still at fault for the ways things turned out to be. There were thing that could get been handled very differently. Things like his temper, his anger towards certain characters and most importantly his way of not seeing what was right in front of him all long. It is human nature to react to situation a person is put in but Oedipus let it all get in the way of seeing what was really important in his life. Oedipus is not the only character at fault, every character in Oedipus Rex by Sophocles, played a major role in this tragedy. First and mostly important were Oedipus’ biological parents for wanted their own son killed in order for the prophecy not to come true. Secondly comes Oedipus’ adopted parents, both the King and Queen of Cornith could have come forward and told Oedipus they are not his biological parents once Oedipus heard about the prophecy and tried to escape it. Some readers may overlook the King and Queen of Cornith but they do play a key role in tragedy of Oedipus’ life after all. Then comes Teiresias and Creon, they both knew before Oedipus finally put all the pieces together and did not fully confront him but let him on. Oedipus was very naïve and did not want to see all the signs that were in front of him. Some readers believe Oedipus just did not want to see the truth that was right in front of him but rather life in the unknown and believe he had beat his prophecy. Finally comes Queen Jocasta who knew about the prophecy for so long, and did not find it weird her husband King Laius was murdered then marries a man that could be son’s age. Queen Jocasta killed herself soon after finding out the truth about her second husband who in reality was her son she thought was dead due to orders her and her late husband King Laius. Queen Jocasta beloved that ending her life was the best way out of the tragedy her life had become. The prophecy came true, King Laius was killed by their son Oedipus and then marries not only her husband killer but her son who sent to get killed in order for this not to happen. The past caught up to every character in this story, not only the past but karma. Everyone in this story sooner or later paid for all the bad and evil they ever did. Unfortunately there are some characters in this story who were not at fault and those were Oedipus and Queen Jocasta children. Those children are not at fault for their parent’ mistake or most importantly their mother’s mistake, whom is also their grandmother. At the end they are the ones who suffer the greater loss, not only do they come to find out the truth of their own family tree but they also lost both of their parents due to this prophecy. Unfortunately Oedipus Rex by Sophocles, did not end with a happy ending instead it was a tragedy from beginning to end and every character played a key role in that.
More than One Jocasta: Ancient and Modern Perspectives
In Socrates’ Oedipus the King, the character of Jocasta plays a pivotal role in the plot. How one views Jocasta, the mother, and later, unknowingly, wife of Oedipus, is integral to progression of the story and to how one judges the various characters of a play. In choosing to tell the story of Oedipus the King through the eyes of Jocasta herself as opposed to the third person point of view employed in the original play, Ruth Eisenberg establishes another vantage point from which Jocasta can be viewed, setting her up more as a victim of circumstance and the gods’ punishment as opposed to an accessory to the penance handed down to Oedipus. Using strong diction, vivid symbols, and passionate emotions, Eisenberg is able to establish Jocasta as a victim who does not have the power to alter her fate as opposed to Socrates’ interpretation of Jocasta being more of an instigator in the fate of Oedipus but still little more than a pawn in the game of the gods. Primarily through the degree of depth into which each author goes into Jocasta’s character, we are able to see two contrasting viewpoints of who Jocasta truly is.
In Eisenberg’s poem, Jocasta, we get a much more in-depth look into Jocasta’s psyche and especially into her relationship with Laius. Jocasta throughout the poem expresses that she has had no control over her life and has been forced to listen to the whims of others as opposed to making her own decisions. As early on as line twelve, when Jocasta says she is “fifteen and afraid to resist,” we begin to see her as a victim of Laius. Laius is treating her not as a human but as an object, something subject to his will and fancies. Describing Laius as having “icy eyes” (18) and as a “deceitful man” (50/51) we as readers begin to see a picture of a resentful marriage. Laius’ cold nature is contrasted with the warmth of Aphrodite that runs through Jocasta and the fire that burns within her for Oedipus. Whereas in Oedipus the King there were no signs of any negative feelings from Jocasta to Laius, Eisenberg sets Jocasta in firm opposition against Laius. As a result, the same woman who in Socrates’ original play seemed in line with the corruption and sadness that Laius brought down upon Oedipus is, in Eisenberg’s poem, in stark opposition to Laius, a seeming beacon of light against the dark hate that Laius carried with him. In doing so, Eisenberg places Jocasta and Oedipus in the same boat, both as victims who have had no say in their independent fates.
Socrates established Jocasta and Oedipus as two very separate, unlinked characters, with one, Jocasta, on the side of the Gods, merely a part of Oedipus’ punishment. While there are signs that Socrates saw some sympathy for Jocasta, as she pleads with Oedipus not to question his origins throughout the play, Socrates does not attempt to go into depth at all with her character. She is a part to a whole in the gods’ plan and nothing more. However, in Eisenberg’s play Jocasta is seen completely differently, standing up to Laius and the gods, decrying their tyranny. Saying that the gods “blinded me to his [Oedipus] scars, his age, any resemblance to Laius,” (286/287) she rightfully calls out the gods for what they have put her through, describing their actions as nothing more than “heavenly whim” (311). Jocasta takes control of her life in Eisenberg’s poem, shaking her fist at the gods (283/284) and finally, in stepping off the stool “onto the air” (319) she seems to rise above the prophesy, fighting the gods until her last breath. She shows that she is a human with her own wills and wants, not just a plaything for the gods.
The primary contrast between Socrates and Eisenberg in how Jocasta is viewed lies primarily in the degree of depth to which she is discussed. Socrates sees Jocasta as something similar to Laius, a woman whose main role is to help the gods carry out their punishment against Oedipus. However, Eisenberg chooses to follow a different route and go in great detail into Jocasta’s thoughts, establishing her as a person in firm opposition to the whims of Laius and the gods and someone who wasn’t afraid to stand up for what she believed in, even if it was in defiance of the gods. The differences in diction, speech, and symbolism between Oedipus the King and Jocasta are what establish this contrast, and in doing so cause us as readers to completely question not only who Jocasta and the gods are, but to also question our own lives and if we are doing enough to establish conscious change for ourselves.