Oedipus Rex, by Sophocles Mike Doucette Dillan Leslie Kevin Casella
Intro to Major Characters • Oedipus- King of Thebes (Protagonist) • Chorus- townspeople of Thebes • Jocasta- Wife of Oedipus, Queen • Creon – Brother-in-law to Oedipus • Tiresias – Blind prophet • Laius – Former king of Thebes (deceased)
Summary of the Novel • Part 1: Tiresias -Up to the point of Tiresias, the blind prophet, the people of the town are introduced (The Chorus), Oedipus speaks with the townspeople about the investigation of Laius (The former king’s) death, and Tiresias is brought in for guidance
Summary Cont. • Tiresias’ guidance - Tiresias tells Oedipus that the slayer is in fact in the town, and it could be someone who he may not suspect. Oedipus is angered by his vagueness and threatens him to the point where Tiresias forgets all boundaries. Tiresias then accuses Oedipus himself of killing Laius. Tiresias is then escorted away before Oedipus gets too angry.
Summary Cont. • Part 2: After Tiresias, up to The Messenger - When Tiresias leaves, Oedipus accuses Creon (his brother in law) of plotting the whole murder accusation against himself. After cooling off for a time and talking to Jocasta(his wife) about the death of Laius and finding out more details, he realizes that he may have killed Laius after all.
Summary Cont. • Messenger Arrives -A messenger arrives from Corinth, where Oedipus grew up. He informs Oedipus that his father Polybus has died of natural causes, and also finds out that Polybus was not his real father. Angered and a bit confused, Oedipus calls upon a shepherd that gave up Oedipus as a boy. It turns out Oedipus was left for dead as a boy because his father heard the same prophecy he did.
Summary Cont. • Part 3: Shepherd to Oedipus’ demise - . Angered and a bit confused, Oedipus calls upon a shepherd that gave up Oedipus as a boy. It turns out Oedipus was left for dead as a boy because his father heard the same prophecy he did. Everything comes together for Jocasta, and she realizes what happened and runs inside. By the time Oedipus realizes the truth about everything, he goes to see Jocasta.
Summary Cont. • The End. -When Oedipus goes inside they find Jocasta had killed herself in her bedroom. At the sight of this, Oedipus gouges his own eyes out. Oedipus begs to be exiled from the land because of the curse he has brought. The book ends with the Chorus summarizing the event.
Themes and Symbols • Sight – In the story, Oedipus is “blinded” from the truth for all those years, not knowing the truth about his beginnings. Once he finally sees the truth, he blinds himself literally so he doesn’t have to see anything anymore. - Irony plays a role through Tiresias with the topic of sight. Tiresias is a man who is literally blind, yet sees the full truth, and Oedipus is a man who can see, but is blinded from the truth.
Themes and Symbols Cont. • Fate – Fate plays a huge role in the story. It is based off of prophecies and events that are fated to happen. Oedipus as a baby is taken to Corinth to be raised as a prince, yet when he hears his fate of killing his father and marrying his mother, he flees Corinth, hoping that it will not come true. By doing this, he ends up running into his real father and killing him, and then ending up back in Thebes where he becomes king and marries his mother. This shows how fate cannot be avoided.
Themes and Symbols Cont. • Rebirth – In the beginning of the story, Oedipus was “blind” to the truth and was an arrogant king. Once he realizes what he has done to his father and mother, he inflicts damage to himself and became humble and disgraced. He accepted what he had done and the sins he committed.
Style • This play is considered a traditional Greek tragedy. It uses strophes and antistrophes to relate to the audience using the chorus. • Strophe- The beginning of an ode, where the chorus moves from right to left while performing. • Antistrophe – The counterpart of a strophe, where the chorus moves from left to right back across the stage while performing. • These are used a number of times throughout the story to show how the townspeople of Thebes were feeling.
Relevance • This particular play was written approximately around 430 BC. The purpose of a lot of Greek tragedies such as Oedipus Rex was that they were used as a catharsis (emotional purging) to Greek citizens. They thought by performing in the play, they would be able to let go their own feelings of sadness.
Evaluation • The book was an enlightening journey of self realization and personal demons. It took an irregular approach to the traditional Greek tragedy through a detective style, resolving with a twist worthy of M. Night Shayamalan. Overall, the work proved to be a bit strange but was a good read.