A few themes of Oedipus

Hi all, I just briefly put a few ideas down on here. It's not finished, and I'll add quotes as soon as I find my copy of Oedipus!

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  • Oedipus the King
    • Oikos
      • Jocasta is his mother and wife!
        • The way Jocasta acts gives us subtle clues.
          • for example, when she breaks up the argument between Creon and Oedipus she acts as a mother would do.
            • Jocasta: "Tell me clearly, how did the quarrel start?"
      • Oedipus killed his father Laius
        • This took place at a crossroads where Oedipus encountered him and killed him unknowingly.
      • The whole play is centered around him finding out about his family
    • Polis
      • The Polis is damaged by the plague of which is Oedipus' 'fault'.
        • Priest:  "Raging plague in all its vengeance"
          • Oedippus: "He is the plague, the heart of our corruption"
      • Oedipus is eventually exiled on his own orders from Creon - He vowed that whoever had killed Laius would be exiled.
    • Sight vs. blindness
      • Oedipus is blind to the truth all the way through - until he is phyisically blinded, then he sees the truth. There are references to this all the way through.
        • Oedipus: "I would be blind to misery not to pity people kneeling ay my feet"
        • Preist: "Look around you, see with your own eyes"
          • The conversation with Teiresias is one of the most obvious examples.
        • The conversation with Teiresias is one of the most obvious examples.
        • The conversation with the messenger is soooo painstakingly obvious that Oedipus did it. However he just keeps refusing to believe it!
          • Despite being told by Teiresias that Polybus wasn't his real father, he ignores it and when the news comes from the messenger that Polybus is dead, there is a great sense of relief for Jocasta and Oedipus.
            • Dramatic tension for the audience!
      • Teiresias: Even though blind, he can see farther than others. Even though Oedipus isn't blind, he cannot see the truth!
        • Teiresias to Oedipus: "You are the curse, the corruption of this land!"
      • Ignorance
        • Oedipus is ignorant to the truth, right until the end, when you'd have to be stupid not to realise
          • The scene where the messenger says too much - for Jocasta that is, is the peripiteia (the plot turns on its head). Because of his ignorance, he had a 'hand' in the suicide of Jocasta.
            • Jocasta: "Aieee, man of agony - that is the only name I will have for you, no other!
          • Oedipus: "I have a terrible fear the blind seer can see".
          • They both hang on that one little bit of information that the killer was in fact many men. They dismiss the fact that the shephard was traumatised, and that everything else fits...
          • Oedipus to Teiresias: "Aren't you appaled to start up such a story? You think you can get away with this?"
        • Oedipus' questioning of absolutely everything inevitably leads to his downfall.
          • Oedipus questions Teiresias to the point of him revealing that something bad would happen. This makes Oedipus jump to the conclusion that Teiresias and Creon were plotting against him, calling him "corrupt".
            • Teiresias: "The murderer of Laius: He is here."
        • His hubris (arrogance, over-confidence) is Oedipus' tragic flaw, which leads to his downfall.
          • Oedipus shows hubris at the start when he reminds the kingdom of how smart he is for destroying the Sphinx, and assures them that Laius' killer will be found and exiled.
          • "You all know me, the world knows my fame: I am Oedipus"
      • CONTEXT
        • We have to remember that fate caused this; there is a curse on Oedipus' family that dooms them all.
          • We need to remember that the truth was always going to come out eventually, despite the actions of Oedipus.
            • However, his way of going about getting the answer could be questioned.
              • Would Jocasta have reacted like that if Oedipus had been less ignorant?
          • Would it have been different if Oedipus had been sensible and listened to Teiresias?
    • Key:
      • Ideas for thought
      • Theme
      • The facts
      • Examples from play
      • Quotes


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