English Essay

766 words - 3 pages

Presentation of Women in Oedipus RexThe place of women in ancient Greece is summed up most acutely by the historian Thucydides writing in the fifth century BC when he comments: "The greatest glory for women is to be least talked about among men, whether in praise or blame." Though the character of Oedipus suggests that women are equal, the issue of the true role of women is brought up and is raised in Sophocles' play.The female who plays the largest role in Sophocles' play is Oedipus' wife and mother, Jocasta. From the beginning, one can assume that she has little say in the events of her life. As queen of Thebes, she had little power over the rulings of the kingdom. Furthermore, once news of her husband's death came about, she was forced to accept marriage with the next man who came to rule Thebes. Jocasta had absolutely no say in the matter. She could neither choose who her future husband would be nor choose not to marry. She was seen as property in the eyes of society and could therefore be presented to the next ruler as a gift.Later on, Jocasta is used to comment on the nature of women in general. During scene three, when Oedipus is closer to discovering the truth about his origins, Jocasta becomes weary and begs Oedipus to stop. In his impatience and desire to find out the truth, he decides to ignore the pleas of his wife and instead insult her. In this scene, Oedipus says, "Go, one of you, and bring the shepherd here. Let us leave this woman to brag of her royal name." This comment, aimed at Jocasta, suggests that it is common for women to brag about insubstantial things as family lineage. Later on in this scene he also says, "Let it come! However base my birth, I must know about it. The Queen, like a woman, is perhaps ashamed to think of my low origin."This comment seems to further reinforce Oedipus' claim that women are shallow beings who care only about family name, wealth, and origin.The actual role of women is repeated throughout the play. Women have little responsibility in the workings of society and are basically seen as child bearers. For example, anytime Jocasta is mentioned, the fact that she is the...

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