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Oedipus The King Essay The Success Of Sophocles' Greek Tragedy, Oedipus The King Is Largely Due To The Emotional Impact It Has Had On Audiences Throughout Time. Oedipus The King Written By Sophocles

1686 words - 7 pages

One of the most successful Greek tragedies, that has affected audiences since the fifth century is Oedipus the King written by Sophocles. Oedipus the King is powerful because it shows how a man comes to the greatest point of his life and then through his own persistent qualities he brings about his downfall. This story relates to how Aristotle said that the aim of a tragedy was to bring about a catharsis of the audience. The catharsis is experienced by witnessing the dramatic change that Oedipus goes through, from once being a great and noble King to becoming a shamed and blinded man. The story gets the audience so emotionally involved that by the end they are left feeling cleansed. Oedipus the King shows how Oedipus, the main protagonist lives out his fate that was prophesised for him before he was born. The prophecy states that Oedipus will kill his father and marry his mother. The play shows how Oedipus begins a search for a killer only to discover that he is looking for himself. The whole play is leading up to Oedipus's reaction when he finds out that he has fulfilled the prophecy. Audiences throughout time have experienced the power of this play and through creating strong feelings of pity, horror and disgust it brings about an emotional climax.The audience experiences many emotions throughout Oedipus the King but two of the strongest emotional reactions are horror and disgust. The reaction of disgust is an ongoing feeling towards the incest that occurs in the play. Incest is a subject that is not talked about in any society and when present in literature it will always draw a strong opposing reaction against it. Even in the case of Oedipus the King were Oedipus commits incest with his mother without knowing what he is doing, it also gives the audience an immediate feeling of disgust. This feeling does not change just because the reasons for the incest are valid, Oedipus didn't know that Jocasta was his mother. The audience's reaction becomes very strong when Oedipus describes his disgust of the crime. 'brought down these piling curses on myself. And you, his wife, I've touched your body with these, the hands that killed your husband.' (pg206) Horror is also experienced by the audience when Oedipus commits murder. The play is build around Oedipus searching for the man that killed Laius only to find that he is in fact the murderer. Although the murder had already been committed it still makes the audience react in horror because murder is a grave crime. It could be debated that he killed in self defence because Laius had forcefully harassed him but this knowledge does not change the reaction of horror from the audience because nothing changes the fact that Laius was killed. The horror is also intensified when Oedipus describes the murder to Jocasta. 'Short work, by god-with one single blow of the staff in this right hand I knock him out of his high seat, roll him out of the wagon, sprawling headlong- I killed them all- every mother's son!'...

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