Oedipus The King And The Tragedy Of King Lear

1190 words - 5 pages

Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex and William Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of King Lear

One of the key themes in both Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of King Lear
and Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex is the importance of having a good
understanding of our condition as human beings – knowing ourselves,
the world that surrounds us and our place in it. At the same time,
however, both authors recognize the fact that blindness to this
knowledge of the human condition is a basic mortal trait. Thus, before
we can have an understanding of the human condition, we must endure a
journey to wisdom. The two authors view the journey to wisdom in terms
of metaphors of blindness and seeing. Sight is a frequently used
metaphor for perception, knowledge and awareness, whilst blindness
connotes ignorance, insensitivity and the inability to perceive and
understand. In the two plays, the characters are initially blind to
their own condition, which eventually leads them to make faulty
decisions, despite the warnings of others. Consequently the characters
suffer as a result of their poor judgment, and only then do they gain
sight and a clear understanding of their own situation. The characters
who undergo this journey are Shakespeare’s Lear and Gloucester, along
with Sophocles’ Oedipus.

At the beginning of his ‘journey’, Lear is blind to the fact that he
is just a mere mortal, which prevents him from acknowledging his own
faults and moral failings. He cannot see that the source of his own
power is the position of kingship, rather than some intrinsic quality
that separates him from his subjects. His own condition is essentially
masked by his kingship, power, wealth and the false self-image of a
‘dragon’[i]. Out of this blindness, Lear presents his daughters with
the love test, to determine who should receive the largest share of
his kingdom. Of course this prompts the daughters to shower him with
compliments. And, as expected, Lear remains blind to the fact that the
praise he receives is more flattery than genuine adulation.
Ironically, Goneril even states that her father is ‘dearer than
eyesight’[ii], since for the power hungry daughter Lear is far more
valuable blind than he would be, if he could see his own condition.
Gloucester can not see past the appearances of his children as well,
he is blind to Edmund’s deceit and Edgar’s virtue. When learning of
Edgar’s apparent intention to conspire against him, Gloucester chooses
not to use his own ‘eyes’ to look into the matter, but asks Edmond to
do so instead.

In Oedipus Rex, much like Lear, Oedipus is blind to his own mortality.
He has been deluded by the people of Thebes who hail him, if not ‘the
equal of gods’[iii] then certainly ‘the first of men’[iv]. Thus,
Oedipus too has developed a self-image that is less than objective.
Oedipus learns from the prophet Teiresias, that he is the ‘unclean
thing’[v] that needs removal from Thebes. He chooses to remain blind
to this truth about his own condition,...

Find Another Essay On Oedipus the King and The Tragedy of King Lear

Oedipus the King: A Classical Tragedy

763 words - 3 pages Oedipus the King as a Classical Tragedy Aristotle, in his work 'The Poetics', tried to define the tragedy. Aristotle said that the hero, or at least the main character in a tragedy must be essentially good, but must bring upon himself his fall, due to a fatal flaw. Were the character not noble, many reason, an audience would not care about the person, and would not really notice his fall - from the street to the gutter is not a long way. In

Tragedy in Oedipus the King and Doll's House

1094 words - 4 pages Only Peace in Death Tragedy has been apart of human history since the dawning of civilization. Man has been plunged into terrible tragedies for ages. But not until the Greeks and prominent playwrights such as Sophocles did tragedy take on into its own on the stage. Out of this rebirth of tragedy came what has been considered, even by Aristotle himself, the greatest tragedy ever written, Oedipus the King. He delves into the human psyche

Tragedy in Sophocles' Oedipus The King and Antigone

1418 words - 6 pages Tragedy in Sophocles' Oedipus The King and Antigone The Greeks considered tragedy the greatest form for literature.  However, the tragic ends for the characters were not ordained or set by fate, but rather caused by certain characteristics belonging to that person.  Such is the case with the characters of Sophocles' plays Oedipus the King and Antigone.  Oedipus from King Oedipus, and Antigone and Creon from Antigone posses characteristics

The Fate of The Blind. Interprets blindness in King Lear (by Shakepseare) and Oedipus

2022 words - 8 pages 'There's a divinity that shapes our ends, rough hew them how we will.' These words from Hamlet are echoed, even more pessimistically, in Shakespeare's later play, The Tragedy of King Lear where Gloucester says: 'Like flies to wanton boys, are we to the gods, they kill us for their sport'. In Lear, the characters are subjected to the various tragedies of life over and over again.An abundance of cyclic imagery in Lear shows that good people are

The Nature of King Lear

1071 words - 4 pages The most prevailing images in King Lear are the images (metaphoric and actual) of nature. The concept of nature seems to consume the dialogue, monologues, and setting. It might be useful to view nature as `the natural order of the world' (and, perhaps, the universe). When one goes against the natural order, chaos will follow. Shakespeare has made this point clear in "Troilus and Cressida" where Ulysses predicts that once "the specialty of

The Reinvention of King Lear

2118 words - 8 pages Shakespeare's master works The Tragedy of King Lear has received the most scholarly debate and bold interpretation, often to the point of complete reinvention, throughout theatrical history. The tragedy was first performed in 1605 or at the end of 1606 depending on who is speaking. The earliest printed version of the play appears in the celebrated First Quarto of 1608. This account stands in direct conflict with the Folio of 1623. While each

tragoed Comparing Elements of Tragedy in Hamlet and Oedipus the King

785 words - 3 pages The Tragedies of Hamlet and Oedipus the King       Tragedy is a broad genre that may take many forms. Sophocles' Oedipus the King and Shakespeare's Hamlet both contain the basic elements of tragedy, but Hamlet is a tragic hero, while Oedipus is a tragic villain. From the opening moments of Hamlet, the audience knows that Hamlet must avenge his father's death. Oedipus, on the other hand, kills his own father and unwittingly marries his

Sight And Blindess Of Oedipus The King

1449 words - 6 pages Oedipus the King by Sophocles was a play written after a devastating plague struck the city of Athens in 430 B.C. The play is about how knowledge can lead to devastation and destruction based on how the characters find out the truth of the Delphic Oracle. Years before Oedipus became the king of Thebes, the previous king, Laius, had received a prophecy that his son would grow up to kill his father. With this information he gave his baby son to

Oedipus the King and Aristotle

893 words - 4 pages In Poetics' by Aristotle, the author talks about what he feels are the conventions of any successful tragic play. With that in mind perhaps the greatest tragedy from his time period if not ever is Oedipus the King by Sophocles. It fits almost perfectly the majority of the criteria Aristotle sets and so has been considered by some scholars as the perfect tragedy. The main criteria set by Aristotle involves the plot and the plays main

Oedipus the King: The Hubris of Oedipus

2521 words - 10 pages "Oedipus the King" written by Sophocles, is a powerful Greek tragedy story. The protagonist, Oedipus is a heroic mythical king who had it all. Oedipus pursues to find the true answers to his identity and destiny, while at the same time trying to avoid fulfilling his destiny. "Oedipus the King" was introduced around 429 B.C.E. in Athens. This was Sophocles' most celebrated play. It is recognized by many titles, such as its Latin

Oedipus the King: The Innocence of Oedipus

1457 words - 6 pages Sophocles' Oedipus Rex Is Innocent Because Oedipus knows nothing about the past of Thebes, he is not an assassin. Oedipus committed murder but unknowingly of who King Laius was. Oedipus' honor was his claim against the murder. Had it been the other way around and Oedipus had lost the battle, King Laius' alibi would have also been for reasons of honor: for reasons of royalty. Oedipus was royalty and knew it as well did King Laius. The main

Similar Essays

The Tragedy Of King Lear Analysis

2197 words - 9 pages The Tragedy of King Lear Analysis Lear: By Jupiter, I swear no! Kent: By Juno, I swear ay. In The Tragedy of King Lear, particularly in the first half of the play, Lear continually swears to the gods. He invokes them for mercies and begs them for destruction; he binds both his oaths and his curses with their names. The older characters—Lear and Gloucester—tend view their world as strictly within the moral framework of the pagan

The Tragedy Of Oedipus The King

700 words - 3 pages The Tragedy of Oedipus the KingMan must accept responsibility for both his own actions and the consequences of those mistakes he comes to make. No excuse or point of finger should take away from his duties of taking responsibility. The events in Oedipus the King, written by Sophocles, shows an underlying relationship of man's free will existing within the order or fate, which the Greeks believed guided the vast universe. Man was free to choose

Tragoed Oedipus The King (Oedipus Rex) And Greek Tragedy

1046 words - 4 pages Oedipus Rex as a Great Greek Tragedy     The reader is told in Aristotle's Poetics that tragedy "arouses the emotions of pity and fear, wonder and awe" (The Poetics 10). To Aristotle, the best type of tragedy involves reversal of a situation, recognition from a character, and suffering. The plot has to be complex, and a normal person should fall from prosperity to misfortune due to some type of mistake. Oedipus Rex, by Sophocles, is a

Oedipus The King As A Tragedy

787 words - 3 pages tragedy. It fits all the characteristics as defined by Aristotle. The tragic hero of a play is a man of some social standing and personal reputation, but sufficiently like ourselves in terms of his weaknesses that we feel fear and pity when a tragic flaw, rather than an associate, causes his downfall. Oedipus is the tragic hero in this play for many reasons. Even though he does not know it, he fulfills the oracle's prophecy by killing his