Elizabeth Kubler Ross, in Death and Dying, discusses the stages one goes through when he or she meets when he or she comes to terms with a death or even his or her own fate. These stages include Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. In Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex, and the medieval morality play, Everyman, by and anonymous author, both the title characters travel through these stages throughout the plot when they come to meet their fates or misfortunes.
Oedipus, when Jocasta re-tells the details of how Laios was murdered, begins his approach to denial. At first, he searches for more and more information that might prove he didn’t really kill his father. This shows the reader that Oedipus seems to know subconsciously that he is the slayer of his father. Everyman, in the first scene, quarrels with Death about going on the long journey. He pleads for even a few more days before making him take this voyage. Both characters argue “Not me…it can’t be!…” Both also look for a person or reason to displace their burden in order to avoid facing their strife.
The second stage according to Kubler Ross is Anger. Oedipus becomes fierce and defiant upon Jocasta’s telling him that he should stop searching for the truth and he doesn’t need to know the answers. This is a stage that appears to mix a bit of denial with anger for Oedipus, but the distinctions, do exist. Everyman becomes angry when Death tells him he must travel a long distance. In this scene, Everyman snaps at Death because he cannot be troubled with trite matters when he has more important things to do.
Bargaining is the third step toward achieving Acceptance. It is very evident in Everyman because Everyman bluntly offers Death riches and fortunes just so he may have a few more days. He will pay Death just to allow him to postpone the trip or hopefully even cancel it. This shows a very clear example of man trying to bargain his way out of fate...
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