Oedipus Rex

Topics: Oedipus, Oedipus the King, Sophocles Pages: 5 (1710 words) Published: December 8, 2007
Journal Project for Oedipus Rex

1.What is the effect of Oedipus' insistence and promises regarding the hunting down and punishing of the murderer of Laius? What does this suggest concerning his character as well as the meaning of Sophocles' play?

Sophocles – a Greek poet and a writer – was famous for his tragedies. All of his plays and tragedies consisted of a very distinctive style called dramatic irony - a situation of drama which is understood by the audience but not grasped by the characters in the story. This not only brings suspense and tension in the play, but it also makes audience feel that they are a part of the play. The play begins with an invocation – a convection commonly used in Greek literature where in the beginning of the epic, a formal plea for aid is called which serves to state the epic's subject and theme. In the beginning of the play, a plague had stricken the city of Thebes which caused a prodigious amount of life-loss. Oedipus – a respectable and an effective ruler decides to find a way to end the plague. By consulting the oracle of Delphi, Oedipus learns that the plague is the result of the anger of God Apollo. The murderer of King Laius was dwelling in Thebes and was still not convicted for the crime. Leaning of this, Oedipus responses by promising the subject of Thebes that he will strive to hunt down and punish the murdered of Laius. Oedipus said, "As for the criminal, I pray to God – whether it be a lurking thief, or one of a number- I pray that that man's life be consumed in evil and wretchedness. And as for me, this curse applies no less if it should turn our that the culprit is my guest here, sharing my hearth." pg(316). This dialogue invokes that Oedipus is not only strict and a determined ruler, but he is also an unbiased person who treats matters with objectivity. This is a perfect example of verbal irony – in which a character's dialogues have ambiguous and double meanings. In this quote, Oedipus is unknowingly cursing himself and is wishing his own doom – which foreshadows the story of the play. Thus his insistence for hunting down the murderer sets a chain reaction which ultimately brings up Oedipus's true identity and also his downfall. 2.Why does Tieresias hesitate to tell Oedipus the truth of his identity? What is the significance of Oedipus' slow coming into awareness of that identity?

Very determined to find out King Laius's murderer, Oedipus – the king of Thebes – learns the fact that King Laius's murderer is living in Thebes itself and is still roaming free. To substantiate his quest, he consults Tieresias – a blind soothsayer who acts as a medium and tells Gods message to ordinary people. When Oedipus tries to ask Tieresias about the murderer of King Laius, Tieresias in fact indirectly accuses Oedipus for the crime. Oedipus – proud of himself and unaware of his crimes, thinks Tieresias's comments are offensive and mocking. They both get in a very heated conversation. Tieresias is one of the only few people who knew Oedipus's real identity and knew who were his real parents. We can see that Tieresias was very hesitated to say the truth. He makes sure that he doesn't let Oedipus know who the real murderer is. Eventually, Oedipus realizes Tieresias's implication that he himself is being accusing for the murder and thus Oedipus accuses and suspects that Creon and Tieresias are conspiring to prove him as murderer. When Tieresias became angry, he said, "The man you have been looking for all the time, the damned man, the murderer of Laius, is in Thebes….To the children with whom he lives now he will be brother and father- the very same; to her who bore him, son and husband – the very same who came to this father's bed, wet with his father's blood." (pg324). There is a great amount of significance in these lines and they indirectly tell us about the prophecy that was made for Oedipus when he was born. It also foreshadows the outcome of the play and is once again an...
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