Jocasta, Blame or Not ?

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Among the outstanding plays of ancient Greece, Oedipus the King, which was created by great tragedian Sophocles and won second prize at the Dionysia festival in 427, is a monumental one. It is even used by Aristotle as his model for tragedy in the Poetics and has always been considered to be one of the greatest tragedies(Feder 292). In the play, Oedipus, the king of Thebes, swears to find out the murderer of the former king Laius, in order to save his people from an terrible plague hanging on the Thebes. Astonishingly, the investigation shows that the murderer was Oedipus himself! What’s more terrible, the former king Laius was just Oedipus’ biological father. And, Jocasta, Oedipus’ wife and queen, who has born him four children, is his mother! Consequently, frustrated by the ruthless facts, Jocasta hangs herself while Oedipus blinds and exiles himself. From the same book, we also notice that, compared with Oedipus and her brother, Creon, Jocasta’s role is not much emphasized by Sophocles although she is a very important character in this play. She appeared when Oedipus and Cron were bitterly quarrelling and came to peace them. Then, as the Corinth messenger came, Jocasta soon realized the cruel facts and went to commit suicide “as the only escape in a desperate misfortune” (Loraux 4), for she couldn’t bear the agony of looking at her son whom she had ordered killed and whom she had married. We easily take it for granted that Jocasta is a cold-blooded, foolish and selfish woman. Just think that she wanted to kill her new-born baby, and then married a stranger who was half of her age with the knowledge of the horrifying prophecy. However, some people still maintain that Jocasta is not to blame. The article on the internet “Jocasta is Not to Blame in Oedipus the King” makes it clear that Oedipus made his own choices and can only be held responcible for his actions, so Jocasta can’t be critisized for Oedipus’ mistakes. In this essay, the author states the...
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