Oedipus Rex Summary
When the play opens, Thebes is suffering an epidemic that leaves its fields and ladies barren. Oedipus, the king of Thebes, has sent his brother-in-law, Creon, to the house of Apollo to ask the oracle the way to end the plague. Creon returns, bearing good news: once the killer of the previous king, Laius, is found, Thebes are going to be cured of the plague (Laius was Jocasta’s husband before she married Oedipus). Hearing this, Oedipus swears he will find the murderer and banish him. The Chorus (representing the people of Thebes) suggests that Oedipus consult Teiresias, the blind prophet. Oedipus tells them that he has already sent for Teiresias.
When Teiresias arrives, he seems reluctant to answer Oedipus’s questions, warning him that he doesn’t want to understand the answers. Oedipus threatens him with death, and eventually, Teiresias tells him that Oedipus himself is that the killer, which his marriage may be a sinful union. Oedipus takes this as an insult and jumps to the conclusion that Creon paid Teiresias to mention this stuff. Furious, Oedipus dismisses him, and Teiresias goes, repeating as he does, that Laius’s killer is true here before him – a person who is his father’s killer and his mother’s husband, a person who came seeing but will leave in blindness.
Creon enters, asking the people around him if it’s true that Oedipus slanderously accused him. The Chorus tries to mediate, but Oedipus appears and charges Creon with treason. Jocasta and therefore the Chorus begs Oedipus to be open-minded: Oedipus unwillingly relents and allows Creon to travel. Jocasta asks Oedipus why he’s so upset and he tells her what Teiresias prophesied. Jocasta comforts him by telling him that there’s no truth in oracles or prophets, and she or he has proof. way back an oracle told Laius that his son would kill him, and as a result, he and Jocasta gave their infant son a shepherd to go away out on a hillside to die with a pin through its ankles. Yet Laius was killed by robbers, not by his son, proof that the oracle was wrong. But something about her story troubles Oedipus; she said that Laius was killed at an area where three roads meet, and this reminds Oedipus of an event from his past when he killed a stranger at an area where three roads met. He asks her to explain Laius, and her description matches his memory. Yet Jocasta tells him that the sole eyewitness to Laius’s death, a herdsman, swore that five robbers killed him. Oedipus summons this witness.
While they await the person to arrive, Jocasta asks Oedipus why he seems so troubled. Oedipus tells her the story of his past. Once when he was young, a person he met told him that he wasn’t his father’s son. He asked his parents about it, and that they denied it. Still, it troubled him, and he eventually visited an oracle to work out his true lineage. The oracle then told him that he would kill his father and marry his mother. This prophecy so frightened Oedipus that he left his hometown and never returned. On his journey, he encountered a haughty man at a crossroads – and killed the person after suffering an insult. Oedipus is afraid that the stranger he killed may need to be been Laius. If this is often the case, Oedipus is going to be forever banished both from Thebes (the punishment he swore for the killer of Laius) and from Corinth, his hometown. If this eyewitness will swear that robbers killed Laius, then Oedipus is exonerated. He prays for the witness to deliver him from guilt and banishment. Oedipus and Jocasta enter the palace to attend for him.
Jocasta comes back out of the palace, on her thanks to the holy temples to wish for Oedipus. A messenger arrives from Corinth with the news that Oedipus’s father Polybus is dead. Overjoyed, Jocasta sends for Oedipus, glad that she has even more proof within the uselessness of oracles. Oedipus rejoices, on the other hand, states that he’s still scared of the remainder of the oracle’s prophecy: that he will marry his mother. The messenger assures him that he needn’t fear to approach Corinth – since Merope, his mother, isn’t his mother, and Polybus wasn’t his father either. Stunned, Oedipus asks him how he came to understand this. The messenger replies that years ago a person gave a baby to him and he delivered this baby to the king and queen of Corinth – a baby that might get older to be Oedipus the King. The injury to Oedipus’s ankles may be a testament to the reality of his tale because the baby’s feet had been pierced through the ankles. Oedipus asks the messenger who gave the baby to him, and he replies that it had been one among Laius’s servants. Oedipus sends his men bent to find this servant. The messenger suggests that Jocasta should be ready to help identify the servant and help unveil the truth story of Oedipus’s birth. Suddenly understanding the terrible truth, Jocasta begs Oedipus to not carry through together with his investigation. Oedipus replies that he swore to unravel this mystery, and he will follow through on his word. Jocasta exits into the palace.
Oedipus again swears that he will find out this secret, regardless of how vile the solution is. The Chorus senses that something bad is close to happening and join Jocasta’s cry in begging the mystery to be left unresolved. Oedipus’s men lead in an old shepherd, who is afraid to answer Oedipus’s questions. But finally, he tells Oedipus the reality. He did give the messenger a baby boy, which baby boy was Laius’s son – an equivalent son that Jocasta and Laius left on a hillside to die due to the oracle’s prophecy.
Finally, the reality is obvious – devastated, Oedipus exits into the palace. A messenger reveals that he grabbed a sword and looked for Jocasta with the intent to kill her. Upon entering her chamber, however, he finds that she has hanged herself. He takes the gold brooches from her dress and gouges his eyes out. He appears onstage again, blood streaming from his now blind eyes. He cries out that he, who has seen and done such vile things, shall never see again. He begs the Chorus to kill him. Creon enters, having heard the whole story, and begs Oedipus to return inside, where he won’t be seen. Oedipus begs him to let him leave the town, and Creon tells him that he must consult Apollo first. Oedipus tells him that banishment was the punishment he declared for Laius’s killer, and Creon agrees with him. Before he leaves forever, however, Oedipus asks to ascertain his daughters and begs Creon to require care of them. Oedipus has then led away, while Creon and therefore the girls return within the palace. The Chorus, alone, laments Oedipus’s tragic fate and his doomed lineage.
Oedipus Rex Analysis
In 335 BCE, Aristotle published Poetics, a tract during which he describes the perfect form and performance of a Greek tragedy. In Aristotle’s eyes, an honest tragic hero must begin the story at a part and end it at a coffee one. The hero must be brought low by their hamartia, or hamartia, instead of through the machinations of a villain. Finally, they need to confront their hamartia so as for the audience to experience catharsis, a spiritual and emotional relief. Aristotle references Oedipus throughout his treatise as a paragon of tragedy. Specifically, Sophocles’s depiction of Oedipus as a personality fits nearly perfectly with Aristotle’s definition of the perfect tragic hero.
Oedipus begins the play at a high point: he’s a highly respected king who is beloved by his people; he’s happily married with several adoring children, and he’s confident in himself and his abilities. However, he’s brought low by his hamartia. By the top of the play, he has lost his crown, his family, and his belief in himself. In Oedipus’s case, his hamartia proves to be hubris or the assumption within the ability of mortals to defy the desire of the gods. Laius, Jocasta, and Oedipus all suffer from this flaw by attempting to bypass the prophecy that foretells Oedipus’s patricide and incest. The catharsis, or emotional cleansing for the audience, comes as Oedipus learns the reality about his parentage and accepts his fate.
Dramatic irony is pervasive in Oedipus. irony may be a device whereby the audience understands the importance of a character’s words or actions but the character doesn’t. the whole premise of the play is predicated on Oedipus’s ignorance of his parentage and, by extension, the very fact that he has killed his father and married his mother. Audiences begin to suspect the tragic truth of Oedipus’s life far before he does. For the first Greek audiences, Oedipus’s story would have already been documented. This foreknowledge enhances the irony since the audience doesn’t get to await the clues that Oedipus receives.
Throughout the play, Oedipus makes accusations and promises that find yourself being tragically ironic. When told that the sole thanks to ending the plague is to exile or execute Laius’s murderer, Oedipus worries that the murderer may come after him next. He vows to seek out and punish the murderer and declares that if he were to ever welcome the murderer into his home, then he too should be punished. the last word bout of irony arrives when Oedipus accuses Teiresias of the murder. All of those instances reinforce Oedipus’s ignorance, deepening the tragedy of the eventual revelation surrounding his true parentage. Denied the knowledge which may have saved him from his tragic fate, Oedipus unknowingly committed several horrific acts. The audience can only pityingly watch as Oedipus determinedly pursues the knowledge which will cause his ruin and reveal the tragedy to which he’s already fated.
The Chorus as a Dramatic Device
Choruses are a crucial fixture in Greek tragedies. they’re comprised of actors who both participate in and discuss the action of a play through song and dance. counting on the play, the Chorus can occupy various roles. The Chorus in Oedipus is comprised of Theban Elders, respected members of society who frequently offer advice to Oedipus. they assist provide contextual information about the setting, and their reactions to the events of the play helped guide the response of the audience. Choruses also often clarify the thematic messages of tragedies, because the Chorus of Theban Elders does at the top of Oedipus. In their final lines, they lament the tragedy of Oedipus’s fall. most significantly, they remind the audience that fate is inescapable which fortune’s blessings are fickle.
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