Themes In Oedipus Rex British Literature Essay

Oedipus Rex is probably the most famous tragedy ever before written. The play was produced in Athens around 430 B. C at the fantastic Dionysia, a ethnic festival held in honor of the God Dionysus. Within the play Oedipus, the king of Thebes, aware that his city has been destroyed by hearth, sends his brother-in-law Creon to discover a cure from the Oracle of Apollo at Delphi. When Creon returns Oedipus begins looking into the death of Laius, and discovers through many techniques he was the one who got unknowingly killed Laius and then

married his own mom, Jocasta. After the suicide of his mom, Oedipus shades himself and calls for leave of his children. Many historical creators including Voltaire, philosopher Frederic

Nietzsche, and the father of psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud reacted at size to the play's themes of incest and patricide. Freud, demonstrated that Oedipus's fate is common to us. "Oedipus Organic" is the definitive parent-child relationship.

Knowledge and Ignorance

Oedipus's desire to get knowledge that will help to rid Thebes of its pollution is visible from the beginning

of the play. When the priest comes to him to require help, Oedipus has already begun the procedure of searching

for solutions; he has delivered Creon to Delphi to study from Apollo what measures should be studied. When Creon

enters, Oedipus begins questioning him intensely, declares a search for Laius's murderer, and asks for

Teiresias's assistance in adition to that of others; whenever a person in the chorus offers information Oedipus says,

"notify me. I am enthusiastic about all information. " His strong perception that the search for the truth will lead to a successful

cleansing of Thebes is juxtaposed with the reluctance for other characters to deliver their

knowledge. Most fear retribution, since their knowledge details to Oedipus as the source of Thebes's troubles.

This belief should also be known in the context of Oedipus's ignorance and last, tragic discovery of his

identity; by requiring that others simply tell him all they know he is compelled to confront the hideous facts of his

patricide and incest.

Choices and Consequences

Another theme in the play is the distinction between your truthfulness of oracles and prophecies of the gods, as opposed to man's potential to influence his life's trajectory through his own actions. Despite his best efforts to be a

good and sensible ruler, fate works against Oedipus and lastly demonstrates he was incorrect to trust in a conspiracy and substantiate his boasts about the wicked machinations of Creon and Teiresias, fate

works against him and lastly shows that he was incorrect to trust in a conspiracy. For example, when

Oedipus would like to punish Creon, he expresses to a member of the chorus his intent to condition his coverage in

forcefully self-determining dialect: "Could you have me stand still, hold my serenity, and let this man win

everything, through my inaction?" Again, Oedipus battles up against the oracle that predicts his hand in his

father's fatality and boldly asserts that it's incorrect when Polybos's death is reported: "Polybos. Has stuffed the

oracles off with him underground. They are really bare words. " However the oracle remains true, and Oedipus is

helpless in the face of its powerful prophecy.

Public vs. Private Life

The amount to which Oedipus wishes general public disclosure of information is particularly stunning in the play's first

scenes. He asks the priest and Creon to speak publicly about the troubles of Thebes also to offer possible clues

and solutions before his subjects, in spite of their reservations. Creon asks: "Is it your pleasure to listen to me

with all these/ Collected around us? I am prepared to speak, /But should we not go ahead?'' Oedipus consistently

refuses to cover up any knowledge he'll receive and would like his informers to adopt a similar attitude. When

Teiresias refuses to answer Oedipus's call and later resists revealing the king's dark fact, Oedipus grows

impatient, hostile, and abusive. Teiresias would like to keep his information to himself, as will the shepherd in

a later picture, but Oedipus will hear nothing from it. Furthermore, Jocasta is willing to evade or gloss over the

truth as it is going to be uncovered from various people. She views the matter a private one and attempts to protect

Oedipus from the devastating disclosures. Oedipus, however, refuses to tolerate a world where secrets can be found.

He publicly learns the real truth"at the trouble of his sanity and delight. His desire to have a Theban contemporary society that

fosters truth and openess can be an admirable one, the one that albeit contributes to his demise


The Genre of Greek Tragic Drama

Ever since Aristotle's high praise regarding its framework and characterization in his Poetics, Oedipus Rex has

been considered one of the most outstanding types of tragic dilemma. In tragedy, a protagonist inspires in

his audience the twin thoughts of pity and dread. Usually a person of virtue and position, the tragic hero can be a

scapegoat of the gods or a sufferer of circumstances. Their fate (often death or exile) establishes a fresh and

better cultural order. Not only does it make the viewers aware of human hurting, tragedy illustrates the manner

in which delight (hubris) can topple even the strongest of characters. It really is area of the playwright's goal that

audiences will identify with these fallen heroes-and possibly rethink the manner in which they live their lives.

Theorists of tragedy, beginning with Aristotle, have used the word catharsis to fully capture the sense of purgation

and purification that enjoying a tragedy yield in a viewer: relief they are not in the positioning of the

protagonist and recognition that one slide of fate could place them in such circumstances.


The dramatic framework of Greek episode is helpfully discussed by Aristotle in the twelfth publication of Poetics. In this

classical tragedy, a Prologue shows Oedipus consulting the priest who speaks for the Theban elders, the first

choral ode or Parodos is performed, four functions are shown and followed by odes called stasimons, and in the

Exodos, or last take action, the fate of Oedipus is disclosed.


Tragedies in fifth-century Athens were performed in the marketplace, known in Greek as the agora. The

dramatic tournaments of the Great Dionysia, Athens's total annual cultural and religious festival, were presented in a

structure made of wood near to the Acropolis. The chorus performed on an elevated stage. There were no female

actors, and it is still unfamiliar (though much speculated upon) whether women attended these performances. It

is also noteworthy that the performance space was close to the Priyx, the area in which the century's increasingly

heated and rhetorically sophisticated political debates took place"a feature of Athenian cultural life that

suggests the pervasive dynamics of spectacles of refined and persuasive verbal expression.

The Chorus

The Greek chorus, like the genre of tragedy itself, is respected to be always a remnant of the ritualistic and ceremonial

origins of Greek tragedy. Sophocles added three participants of the chorus to Aeschylus's twelve. In terms of

form, the choral ode has a tripartite structure which bears traces of its use as a melody and dance style. The

three parts are called, respectively, the strophe, the antistrophe, and the epode; their metrical constructions vary

and are usually highly complex. In the event the strophe established the dance design, in the antistrophe the dancers trace

backwards the same steps, finishing the ode in a different way with the epode.

With esteem to content, the choral odes bring an additional viewpoint to the play, and frequently this perspective is

broader and even more socio-religious than those made available from individual characters; additionally it is conservative and

traditional at times, potentially in order to reflect the views of its modern culture rather than the protagonist. The

Chorus's first set of lyrics in Oedipus Rex, for example, communicate a curiosity about Apollo's oracle and describes

the ruinous landscape of Thebes. Its second utterance reminds the audience of the newness of Teiresias's

report: "Rather than as yet has any man brought word/Of Laius's dark fatality staining Oedipus the Ruler. "

The chorus reiterates some of the action, expressing differing degrees of hope and despair wilh value to it;

one of its customers provides the play's final lines, much like the Shakespearean epilogue. Sometimes the

chorus sings a dirge with one or more people, as when it suggests to Oedipus never to disbelieve Creon's

protestations of innocence.


The play's action occurs outside Oedipus's palace in Thebes. Thebes had been founded, based on the myth,

by Cadmus (a son of Agenor, King of Phoenicia) while searching for his sister Europa, who got been

abducted by Zeus by means of a bull. A primary line of descent can be tracked from Cadmus to Oedpius;

between them are Polydorus, Labdacus, and, of course, Laius.

Imagery and Foreshadowing

Associated with knowledge and ignorance will be the continuing images of darkness and light in the play, and these

images are examples of some sort of foreshadowing that the play is justly famous. If the play

begins, the priest uses this group of contrasts to describe the current condition of Thebes: "And everything the house of

Kadmos is laid misuse/All emptied, and all darkened. " Shortly after this moment, Oedipus guarantees Creon

"Then once more I must bring what is dark to light, '' that is, the murder of Laius will away and Oedipus will be

responsible for finding and exposing the culprit(s). Metaphorical and literal uses of darkness and light also

provide foreshadowing, since it is Oedipus's prefer to bring the truth to light that leads him to a

self-knowledge ruinous and evil enough to cause him to blind himself. After the shepherd uncovers his beginning he

declares, "O Light, can i look you for the last time!" In expressing this he sets up for the audience, who are,

presumably, acquainted with the star of Oedipus, his succeeding actions. The second messenger represents his

command to himself as he proceeds to execute the gruesome job: "From this hour, will end up in darkness!" thereby

enacting both a literal and metaphorical show up in to the dark effects of his unbearable knowledge. These

are but a few examples of how imagery and foreshadowing as techniques can meet, overlap, and mutually

inform each other in the play; through subjective interpretation, many more may be found.

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