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Oedipus the King

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Taylor Linke

on 1 October 2014

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Transcript of Oedipus the King

What role does dramatic irony have in Oedipus the King?
Dramatic irony played a very important role in creating pseudo-suspense in a situation in which suspense itself cannot be made. This play was meant to be performed, and considering the primitive situations in which people would perform Oedipus Rex, it can easily be seen that a sense of dread brought upon the audience by them knowing that the main character of the play is constantly digging himself deeper into despair by the things that he assumes without having any inkling of an idea of the ever approaching doom. By knowing that Oedipus did in fact murder his father and marry his mother, the audience understands that when he says things like,

“To avenge this wrong to Thebes and to the god.
Not for some far-off kinsman, but myself,
Shall I expel this poison in the blood;
For whoso slew that king might have a mind
To strike me too with his assassin hand.”

Aristotles Tragic Cycle Applied to Oedipus the King/HOW IS OEDIPUS A TRAGIC HERO?
What role does stichomythia play in Oedipus the King?
What role does sight or lack thereof play in Oedipus the King?
Tiresias was blind, but also had the gift of sight, but when it came to Oedipus he didnt want it. He did not want to know the fate of Oedipus nor have to be the one who told him;

"Tiresias- Alas, alas, what misery to be wise
When wisdom profits nothing! This old lore
I had forgotten; else I were not here."
How can Plato's allegory of the cave be connected to Oedipus the King?
In the playwright, Oedipus: The King, the tragic hero Oedipus is brought to light about the true nature of his fate. After hearing his prophecy, he ran away from his home in an attempt to escape killing his father and marrying his mother. However the audience knows that he is ignorant in presuming his daring escape from his own fate. By displaying his ignorance and pride he is chaining himself to the wall of his own cave, and by seeing only his misinterpretations of reality he believes that he has escaped the prophecy uttered by the oracle of Apollo. Throughout his prolonged and excruciating process of enlightenment he is released from his shackles and escorted into a terrifying reality with the truthful testimony of Tiresias, the Messenger, and even his motherwife Jocasta. With the blinding light of reality upon emerging from the cave he realizes of his transgressions against the Gods. Sophocles brilliantly integrates the key components of Plato’s allegory of the Cave, the shackles which are symbolized by Oedipus’s pride and stubborn nature which hinder him from leaving his prison of ignorance.
Why was Tiresias hesitant to share the news about Laius and his death with Oedipus?
Project by:
Tommy Eddy
Devan-o Dimico
Taylor Linke
Oedipus the King
What role does Stichomythia play in Oedipus Rex?

Stichomythia in Oedipus Rex is vital in Sophocles’ exhibition of Oedipus’s character. In his quick exchange of dialogue with other characters, he reveals his own sense of self-worth and even extorts his fatal flaw, his pride.

Twit me with that wherein my greatness lies.
This is an example of Oedipus’s “high and mighty” attitude towards himself. His own flaw is also exemplified when, after Tiresias finally tells the truth and informs Oedipus of his responsibility for Laius’s death, Oedipus then accuses Creon and Tiresias of creating a conspiracy against himself and cross accuses them of murdering Laius.

Vile slanderer, thou blurtest forth these taunts,
And think'st forsooth as seer to go scot free


How does the concept of "Fate or Free Will" play into Oedipus the King?
Fate
Free Will
Tiresias insists that regardless of what he says or does, fate will play itself out;

"Tiresias-well it will come what will,
though I be mute.
Oedipus-since come it must, thy duty
is to tell me.
Tiresias-I have no more to say; storm as thou
wilst, And give the reign to all
thy pent up rage."
In the play the audience discovers that Laius and Jocasta tried to avoid the prophecy they learned of their son and his "involvement" in their lives. Despite their effort to control their lives with free will, fate stepped in and as the Sheppard described in the play by chance he found the child and delivered him to another who then delivered him to the perceived father of Oedipus.

Because of this fate playing out, Oedipus lived to see another day.. as well as to end his father's life and to marry his mother.
Another act of free will completely overridden by Fate was the attempted escape of his prophesied doom by Oedipus that ended him in front of and responsible for a whole city of people with a disaster on their hands. He was also unknowingly the cause of this disaster.
Jocasta, upon finding out who Oedipus is, chooses her own fate. She commits suicide solely by her own choice. No other force predicting her death was at work there.

Also Oedipus chooses to gouge his own eyes, not forseen completely out of his decision.
Oedipus displays the largest amount of free will in this play. He spends the majority of the play choosing to push people into telling him what he wants to hear, or rather what he doesn't (who killed Laius).


"Oedipus- Oh speak,
Withhold not, I adjure thee, if thou know'st,
Thy knowledge. We are all thy suppliants.
Tiresias- Aye, for ye all are witless, but my voice
Will ne'er reveal my miseries--or thine.
Oedipus- What then, thou knowest, and yet willst not speak!
Wouldst thou betray us and destroy the State?
Tiresias- I will not vex myself nor thee. Why ask
Thus idly what from me thou shalt not learn?
Oedipus- Monster! thy silence would incense a flint.
Will nothing loose thy tongue? Can nothing melt thee,
Or shake thy dogged taciturnity?"
Tragic figure who is royalty/nobility/important/loved/well respected
Obviously Oedipus is a King, hence the title of the play, so he has being royal going for him. However he also is respected and well liked. People look up to him for defeating the sphinx and even gave him their queen and city to rule over. At the beginning of the play his people are kneeling at his feet begging for his help. This all sets Oedipus up to fall from a great height.
The priest's choice of words addressing Oedipus are a great indicator of his importance;

"Priest- [...]Therefore, O King, here at thy hearth we sit,
I and these children; not as deeming thee
A new divinity, but the first of men;
First in the common accidents of life,
And first in visitations of the Gods.
[...] O Oedipus, our peerless king,"
Harmartia(Personality Flaw or Mistake)
Oedipus has a flaw in his personality of pride (habris).
He believes so fully in the confidence others have in him that he does very prideful and stupid things to make his fate worse than it already is.
Oedipus pledges to solve the problem of the city;

"Oedipus- Well, I will start afresh and once again
Make dark things clear. Right worthy the concern
Of Phoebus, worthy thine too, for the dead;
I also, as is meet, will lend my aid
To avenge this wrong to Thebes and to the god.
Not for some far-off kinsman, but myself,
Shall I expel this poison in the blood;
For whoso slew that king might have a mind
To strike me too with his assassin hand.
Therefore in righting him I serve myself."

Oedipus curses the murderer (himself) royally;

"Oedipus- [...]And on the murderer this curse I lay
(On him and all the partners in his guilt):--
Wretch, may he pine in utter wretchedness!
And for myself, if with my privity
He gain admittance to my hearth, I pray
The curse I laid on others fall on me.
See that ye give effect to all my hest,
For my sake and the god's and for our land,
A desert blasted by the wrath of heaven.
For, let alone the god's express command,
It were a scandal ye should leave unpurged
The murder of a great man and your king,
Nor track it home."
Oedipus disrespects Tiresias and Creon and forces them to speak in front of everyone

"Creon- If thou wouldst hear my message publicly,
I'll tell thee straight, or with thee pass within.
Oedipus- Speak before all; the burden that I bear Is more for these my subjects than myself."

"Oedipus(to Tiresias)- Yea, I am wroth, and will not stint my words,
But speak my whole mind. Thou methinks thou art he,
Who planned the crime, aye, and performed it too,
All save the assassination; and if thou
Hadst not been blind, I had been sworn to boot
That thou alone didst do the bloody deed."
Fall (Series of Unfortunate Events)
Catharsis
Along with being left with the dread of receiving such a prophesy as Oedipus received, the audience receives a message, and idea to ponder.
The lesson to be learned from Oedipus the King is to avoid exactly what made his fall as devasting as it was; Pride.
Oedipus states it clear and simple for his daughters at the end of the play;

"Oedipus- Let this suffice:
Pray ye may find some home and live content,
And may your lot prove happier than your sire's"
"Messenger 2- [...]A running noose entwined about her neck.
But when he saw her, with a maddened roar
He loosed the cord; and when her wretched corpse
Lay stretched on earth, what followed--O 'twas dread!
He tore the golden brooches that upheld
Her queenly robes, upraised them high and smote
Full on his eye-balls, uttering words like these:
"No more shall ye behold such sights of woe,
Deeds I have suffered and myself have wrought;
Henceforward quenched in darkness shall ye see
Those ye should ne'er have seen; now blind to those
Whom, when I saw, I vainly yearned to know.""
Rock Bottom
Oedipus as the tragic hero, must hit rock bottom, and alas he does; right after he discovers the truth of his fate, the foolishness of his pride and the death of his wife/mother he completely loses his cool and gouges his eyes out with golden broaches.
Oedipus for most of the play was blind to his situation (not knowing he had indeed fufilled his prophecy and was the cause of his cities misery).
Even after he was told by Tiresias he refused to see;

"Tiresias- Is it so? Then I charge thee to abide
By thine own proclamation; from this day
Speak not to these or me. Thou art the man,
Thou the accursed polluter of this land.
OEedipus- Vile slanderer, thou blurtest forth these taunts,
And think'st forsooth as seer to go scot free."
Once Oedipus gains a clear view of all that he has done he chooses to blind himself and becomes like Tiresias. Not physically capable of sight, but able to see his flaws, most specifically his pride which he later conveys to his daughters;

"Oedipus- 'No more shall ye behold such sights of woe,
Deeds I have suffered and myself have wrought;
Henceforward quenched in darkness shall ye see
Those ye should ne'er have seen; now blind to those
Whom, when I saw, I vainly yearned to know.'"
The Fall of Oedipus consisted of events leading to point where he hit rock bottom. They started with the news from Creon that the plague of their city would be cured when the murderer of Laius was cast out;

"Creon- Before thou didst assume the helm of State,
The sovereign of this land was Laius.
Oedipus- I heard as much, but never saw the man.
Creon- He fell; and now the god's command is plain:
Punish his takers-off, whoe'er they be."
Next was the painful bulk of the play which consisted of event after event where Oedipus questioned someone about the death of Laius, received an answer, didn't like it and moved on to another to ask the same question and recieve the same answer. All this while unfortunately was isolating people as he accused them of the murder.
Last was when Jocasta discovered the truth and hanged herself. Then Oedipus found out the truth soon after then also about Jocasta's death, which led him straight to rock bottom.
Yea, I am wroth, and will not stint my words,
But speak my whole mind. Thou methinks thou art he,
Who planned the crime, aye, and performed it too,
All save the assassination; and if thou
Hadst not been blind, I had been sworn to boot
That thou alone didst do the bloody deed.

(This particular quote is from Oedipus ignorantly charging Tiresias with the death of Laius. This exemplifies his stubbornness because Tiresias is attempting to say that Oedipus himself is in fact responsible for the death of Laius.)

The distorted shadows upon the wall of the cave are displayed by his distorted view of reality and his constant fervor in attempting to bring the true killer to light,
“To avenge this wrong to Thebes and to the god.
Not for some far-off kinsman, but myself,
Shall I expel this poison in the blood;
For whoso slew that king might have a mind
To strike me too with his assassin hand.”
(This quote is from when Oedipus finds out the reason for the plague, and his deliberate insistence on investigating the murder, is apparent. The irony is clear in this situation when he says “for whoso slew that king might have a mind to strike me too with his assassin hand” when in fact he strikes himself in the end causing the removal of his eyes. His distorted view of reality is represented by his insistence of justice upon an unknown person)

when he is responsible for his father’s death. Also the characters of the play slowly and cathartically decipher the situation, which is represented in the allegory by the prison guard dragging the prisoner away from his only reality.
O woe is thee, poor wretch! With that last word
I leave thee, henceforth silent evermore.
(This quote is from Oedipus’s motherwife Jocasta, who says this when she realizes that she is in fact the mother of Oedipus. This is significant because she pieced together the true nature of the situation and asks Oedipus to stop digging for the sake of his ignorance. Even though she begs of him to stop asking questions about his childhood, Oedipus’s disobedience leads to his own enlightenment. The solemnness of the line “I leave thee, henceforth silent evermore” exemplifies the cathartic nature of this moment in the play and represents how her own realization only makes Oedipus need to seek the truth with even more deliberation.
Lastly the terrifying reveal of true nature is ironically symbolized by his gouging of his own eyes because he felt that the reality of his motherwife’s death as well as his sin could not be seen after the blinding light of the tragic reveal.
Dark, dark! The horror of darkness, like a shroud,
Wraps me and bears me on through mist and cloud.
Ah me, ah me! What spasms athwart me shoot,
What pangs of agonizing memory?






However it is clear that not only does stichomythia bring forth Oedipus’s tragic flaw but it is also his exercise of free will that becomes pivotal to the tragic cycle. For instance if Oedipus had never argued with Tiresias, he would never have accused him and Creon of murdering the late king, and therefore Tiresias would never have informed him of his responsibility of the king’s death. It is possible that if the literary element stichomythia had not been present Oedipus would never have been brought out of his ignorance, and therefore the tragedy of Oedipus Rex would never exist.
He did not want Oedipus to know his unknowing crime as it would destroy Thebes nor did he want to be the person this information came from. Although Tiresias does eventually te Oedipus and it forwards the tragedy.
one cannot help but to cringe at what is to come, with Oedipus searching for the murderer himself, publicly, in front of everyone. However the sense of dread that it puts on the audience is not the only role that dramatic irony plays in the play. Dramatic irony also exemplifies Oedipus’s tragic flaw. When he gets completely caught up in his own pride, and the audience is reminded of his complete ignorance of his fate the dramatic irony in the situation can make the audience recognize his tragic flaw. For instance when Tiresias is avoiding telling Oedipus of his fate, and Oedipus keeps harassing Tiresias trying to make him tell Oedipus the murderer of Laius.


Monster! thy silence would incense a flint.
Will nothing loose thy tongue? Can nothing melt thee,
Or shake thy dogged taciturnity?

In Oedipus’s constant coaxing, and with his ignorant insistence, the audience can understand how his prideful, haughty personality will be his flaw. The irony of the situation comes across because of Oedipus’s insistence of extortion of the murderer when he himself is solely responsible.
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