Oedipus: Key Quotations


Sight and Blindess

CHORUS: The blind man, the shaman Teiresias, he sees into the heart of things

TEIRESIAS: You are all blind to what I can see

OEDIPUS: You're blind all over, ears, mind and eyes as well! (to Teiresias)

TEIRESIAS: You have eyes but cannot see your own corruption

OEDIPUS: Get him out of my sight (about Teiresias)

OEDIPUS: Let the night come, daylight shows no mercy. It shows too much too clearly.

OEDIPUS: Why have eyes to see my own degradation and misery?

CHORUS: Ignorance made you happy, the truth has made you blind

Oedipus is blind to the truth and at the same time the truth is hidden from him for his own prtoection, his ignorance in not seeing this is what creates his downfall.

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Fate and Free Will

TEIRESIAS: What will happen will happen. Whatever I say.

TEIRESIAS: You are the man: the unclean thing, the dirt that breeds disease

JOCASTA: No one can forecast the future

JOCASTA: Tell me what you think of oracles with their mystifications and mumbo-jumbo!

JOCASTA: You're doomed, you can't escape!

CHORUS: Pain is mortal mans destiny

While many view the play as a display if the cruelty of the gods and the unjust punishment of a noble and heroic king, others suggest that it is Oedipuses arrogance and self-importance that leads him to his awful fate. 

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OEDIPUS: My children... Why do you come here...

OEDIPUS: I am Oedipus the king. Everyone knows my name

CHORUS: World famous Oedipus

PREIST A city that is empty because its people are all dead has no further use for a king

CREON: Don't give me orders! Those days are over. Your orders have brought you to this. Now        you must learn to obey.    

Initially we are presented with a king who is powerful, arrogant but also seems to care for his people. By the end, we are unsure if his downfall was caused by him or fate but we are left with the sense that nothing has been learnt, Creon is just as arrogant.

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PREIST: Babies are born dead in the womb.

OEDIPUS: My children...

MESSENGER: She has conceived a husband by a husband and children by a child

OEDIPUS: My concption a crime. My marriage a crime.

The values of family are completely subverted and destroyed and we are left with no sense of family bonds or values what so ever

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OEDIPUS: I will do everything man can do

TEIRESIAS: I serve the god Appollo, not you nor Creon

OEDIPUS: It's your duty. To say what you know.

Duty is uphold, or at least an attempt is made to do so, and yet the result is still chaos perhaps suggesting there is little value in duty. 

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Truth and Deception

TEIRESIAS: The truth is painful

TEIRESIAS: You are the man: the unclean thing, the dirt that breeds disease

TEIRESIAS: The truth is its own protector

SHEPHERD: I beg you sir, by all the gods, don't ask me that!

CHORUS: Ignorance made you happy. The truth has made you blind.

The truth is subverted and hidden, despite Oedipuses quest for the truth having good, although arguably selfish, intentions, it still results in suffering

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Good and Evil

OEDIPUS: I will do everything man can do

CHORUS: Can you not hear a whole city screaming?

SHEPHERD: You were marked out for suffering from the day you were born

CHORUS: Pain is mortal man's destiny

There are arguably no evil characters in this play, just the cruel and unforgiving force of the gods.

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TEIRESIAS: You have eyes but cannot see your own corruption

CREON: Time is the one incorruptable judge

CHORUS: Judge no man's life until he is dead

OEDIPUS: My conception a crime. My marriage a crime.

There is no such thing as human justice in the play and arguably even the gods are unjust and cruel

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PRIEST: The crops are rotting in the fields. Disease is killing the cattle.

OEDIPUS: Men's ambitions clawing at each other (human nature)

OEDIPUS: Tree's, gully's and naked rocks, you should have let me die.

OEDIPUS: If ever a rosebud was soggy and rotten within, if ever an apple was filthy with maggots

Nature in this play highlights the weaknesses of humanity in the face of the gods and the fate that they decide for each person. 

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