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Character Analysis - Oedipus the King

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on 13 October 2013

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Transcript of Character Analysis - Oedipus the King

Character Analysis of
Oedipus the King

Presentation by Grp 1 IV LDS
Written by Sophocles (420 BC)
Also known as Oedipus Tyrranos or Oedipus Rex
Has long been regarded not only as his finest play but also as the purest and most powerful expression of Greek tragic drama.
Oedipus the King
Guide Questions
Who are the protagonists and antagonists?
What are the kinds of characters presented and who are these characters?
King of Thebes
Jocasta's wife
Creon's brother-in-law
Had two sons, Eteocles and Polyneices, and two daughters, Antigone and Ismene
central figure and tragic hero of Sophocles' play.
Yet Oedipus is stubbornly blind to the truth about himself. His name’s literal meaning (“swollen foot”) is the clue to his identity—he was taken from the house of Laius as a baby and left in the mountains with his feet bound together.
On his way to Thebes, he killed his biological father, not knowing who he was, and proceeded to marry Jocasta, his biological mother.
Oedipus as both Protagonist
and Antagonist
Oedipus, as the king of Thebes, desires to discover the murderer of Laïos and banish him from the city. However, Oedipus is himself the man he seeks. It is Oedipus’ desire for self-preservation and his ignorance of his own deeds that prevents him from reaching this goal.
In serving as the protagonist, he represents the strong ruler determined to save his city or, in a looser interpretation, any man who fights for the good of many. As the antagonist, Oedipus is the man who is too proud to admit his own guilt and seeks to find blame in others.

Charac ter: Round & Dynamic
Renowned for his intelligence and his ability to solve riddles.

He saved the city of Thebes and was made its king by solving the riddle of the Sphinx, the supernatural being that had held the city captive.
Queen of Thebes
Oedipus's wife
Creon's sister
Appears only in the final scenes of Oedipus the King
Before marrying Oedipus, she was married to Laius.
In her first words, she attempts to make peace between Oedipus and Creon, pleading with Oedipus not to banish Creon.

She realizes that Oedipus is her son and that the tragic oracle has been fulfilled.

Like Oedipus, Jocasta commits most of her "sins" in ignorance.

She commits suicide at the end of the play, perhaps in guilt that she left Oedipus to die as a baby, thus precipitating his course towards a tragic end for their whole family.

Character: Round
Child of Oedipus and Jocasta
Antigone appears briefly at the end of Oedipus the King, when she says goodbye to her father as Creon prepares to banish Oedipus.
Oedipus's brother-in-law
Euridice's husband
In him, more than anyone else, we see the gradual rise and fall of one man’s power.
At first, Oedipus accuses Creon of trying to unseat him as king, but Creon is eventually exonerated when Oedipus realizes his own guilt in the murder of Laius. When the dejected Oedipus leaves Thebes at the end of the play, Creon becomes king.

Character: Static
the blind soothsayer of Thebes
Tiresias tells Oedipus that he is the murderer he hunts, and Oedipus does not believe him
The literal blindness of the soothsayer points to the metaphorical blindness of those who refuse to believe the truth about themselves when they hear it spoken.
Oedipus's daughter
Ismene’s minor part underscores her sister’s grandeur and courage.
Ismene fears helping Antigone bury Polynices but offers to die beside Antigone when Creon sentences her to die. Antigone, however, refuses to allow her sister to be martyred for something she did not have the courage to stand up for.
Sometimes comically obtuse or fickle, sometimes perceptive, sometimes melodramatic
The Chorus reacts to the events onstage.
The Chorus’s reactions can be lessons in how the audience should interpret what it is seeing, or how it should not interpret what it is seeing.
Other Characters
The priest is seen briefly at the play's opening. He implores Oedipus and the gods to end the plague of the city.
The shepherd confirms Oedipus' tragic fate by telling the king that Jocasta and Laius are his true parents. This shepherd sends Oedipus, then an infant, to Corinth to live as the son of Polybus.
Tiresias is the old, blind prophet/seer who tells Oedipus his fate. Tiresias has the special gift of foresight and prophecy, which he learns from the gods. In many ways, he is the gods' messenger. Though Oedipus accuses him, too, of treason, Tiresias is proved right in the end.
The Chorus and Leader
The Chorus and their leader are seen throughout the play. The Chorus usually represents the townspeople as a whole as they respond to the new twists in the plot. The Chorus is also a way for Sophocles to reveal the major themes of his tragedy.
Antigone & Ismene
These are the daughters of Oedipus who cry with him towards the end of the play.
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