Oedipus Rex; A Narrative Analysis
A story that has been examined from so many angles can be difficult to bring new light to, but Oedipus Rex, or Oedipus the King is structured by Sophocles in such a way as to make it truly stand the test of time. Such a work of Aristotelian Tragedy, by definition, is driven primarily by its plot. Though such strong characters such as Oedipus may seem simple or disconnected from a more modern story, understanding the order and hierarchy of Plot, Character, and Theme (or Thought, as Aristotle interpreted it) is important for the audience to understand the structures and conventions of a well-designed narrative.
Oedipus Rex originated from an already well known tale at the time it was drafted, and though it is often the subject of study in the Canadian education system, not all modern audience members may be familiar with the tale. That being said, there is little cause for concern, as the complexity and familiar conventions of modern film and other storytelling have given audiences a perspective that assists them in easily predicting the outcome of the story. The audience can quickly recognize the flaws in Oedipus’ egotism and great personal power, among other things. Although one may miss the foreshadowing of Oedipus’ name meaning “swollen foot,” one may still easily recognize and predict the downfall of the mighty king. He seeks so relentlessly and deals in such absolutes that it becomes clear that Oedipus will be the one that the Oracle predicted is the cause of the plague.
Through sheer stubbornness, Oedipus ignores the warnings given to him by the other characters, and in doing so he makes it quite apparent that it is fate that controls his destiny, not his own will. This ‘hamartia’ is something integral to Oedipus (the exemplary tragic character in the high mimetic mode), and it serves to portray not only the type of character he is, but also the thought that is behind...
Bibliography: Letwin, David, Stockdale Joe, and Stockdale Robin. The Architecture of Drama: Plot, Character, Theme, Genre, and Style. Maryland: The Scarecrow Press, Inc, 2008. 38. Print.
Oedipus Rex (1968, TV episode (the Third of Sophocles’ Theban Plays, 16 sept, 1986, dir. Don
Taylor with Michael Pennington, John Gielgud, and Claire Bloom, UK, 111min)
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