12 Dec. 2007
Jocasta the Selfless
In the Greek, tragic dramatist Sophocles’ play, Oedipus, the character Jocasta misfortunately doubled as the wife and mother of the protagonist, Oedipus, the king of Thebes. Throughout the play, Jocasta tries to discourage her husband, Oedipus, from exposing the murderer of her former husband and ruler of Thebes, King Laius, to rid the kingdom of a plague placed upon it by the gods to bring the slaying of Laius to justice. To Jocasta’s disappointment and shock, Oedipus uncovers that he is the murderer of King Laius, and that he is the reason for his kingdom’s suffering. In addition to this, Oedipus also learns that he is the victim of a prophecy spoken of him murdering his father and marrying his mother. Jocasta, being aware of this prophecy, did everything in her power to keep it from fulfilling itself, including giving Oedipus up, as a newborn, to be abandoned in the wilderness where he was to surely die. Jocasta’s actions may be radiated as digressive, hypocritical, and heretical by her speaking out and against the favor of the gods, and eventually taking her own life, which is perceived by many as a means to end the tremendous turmoil that she endured with the revealing of Oedipus’ true identity. Although these assumptions of her character are dominant, I argue that her actions are lead selflessly to ensure the well-being of her loved ones. Jocasta’s selfless decisions reflect her character as a strong woman who likes to take matters into her own hands.
Jocasta’s decision to abandon her baby with the knowledge of his cursed fortune was fueled by her concerns of the infant’s future well-being. She was grieved, nonetheless, in the act of sentencing her baby to death by abandonment, as portrayed in the passage and also in the report written by Michael Cox, “…Jocasta puts the blame for the abandonment squarely on the ‘boy’s father,’ even though later in the play it is...