This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

Significance Of The Women In Oedipus Rex

2769 words - 11 pages

Significance of the Women in Oedipus Rex       

 
  Michael J. O’Brien in the Introduction to Twentieth Century Interpretations of Oedipus Rex, maintains that there is “a good deal of evidence to support this view” that the fifth century playwright was the “educator of his people” and a “teacher”. Sophocles in his tragedy, Oedipus Rex, teaches about “morally desirable attitudes and behavior,” (4) and uses three women to help convey these principles of living. This essay will explore the role of women in the drama, the attitude toward women therein, the involvement of women in plot development, and other aspects of women in Oedipus Rex.

 

At the outset of Oedipus Rex no female characters are present; the reader sees a king who comes to the door full of curiosity: “Explain your mood and purport. Is it dread /Of ill that moves you or a boon ye crave?” When the priest has responded that the people are despairing from the effects of the plague, the king shows sympathy for his subjects: “Ye sicken all, well wot I, yet my pain, /How great soever yours, outtops it all.” Thomas Van Nortwick in Oedipus: The Meaning of a Masculine Life : “We see already the supreme self-confidence and ease of command in Oedipus. . . . exudes a godlike mastery in the eyes of his subjects. . . .”(21-22); such “godlike mastery” will be his undoing. The critic Ehrenberg warns that it “may lead to ‘hubris’” (74-75). Throughout the drama Sophocles draws out an ongoing contrast between the “godlike mastery” of the king and the softer, more balanced and selfless characteristics of Jocasta, his wife. She is a foil to Oedipus. Shortly thereafter Creon, Jocasta’s brother, is returning from the Delphic oracle with the fateful words of the god’s command: “He fell; and now the god's command is plain: /Punish his takers-off, whoe'er they be.” Immediately Oedipus boldly launches a campaign to do what is best for his people and for himself:

 

I also, as is meet, will lend my aid

To avenge this wrong to Thebes and to the god.

Not for some far-off kinsman, but myself,

Shall I expel this poison in the blood;

For whoso slew that king might have a mind

To strike me too with his assassin hand.

 

Oedipus, in his public proclamation regarding punishment for the killer of King Laius, shows more lenient treatment toward the guilty party if he confesses his crime: “I summon him to make clean shrift to me./And if he shrinks, let him reflect that thus /Confessing he shall 'scape the capital charge”. Oedipus, in his cross-examination of the holy man Teiresias, shows his mastery to be more human and  less godlike: “Monster! thy silence would incense a flint. /Will nothing loose thy tongue? Can nothing melt thee, /Or shake thy dogged taciturnity?” The king is confronted with Teiresias’ accusation, “Thou art the man, /Thou the accursed polluter of this land,” and then another even more condemning accusation, “I say thou livest with thy nearest kin /In...

Find Another Essay On Significance of the Women in Oedipus Rex

The Incarnation of the Theory of Tragedy in Oedipus Rex

993 words - 4 pages ground on which the theory of tragedy is based. Actually Aristotle lays the foundations for the critical study of drama in his Poetics by drawing on Sophocles' plays most of the time, especially on Oedipus Rex. It is a fact clearly evident from this contextual standpoint that Oedipus Rex and consequently Oedipus, the hero of the play, serve as the most original incarnation--typical example--of the theory of tragedy. So the point now is whether or

The Importance of the Chorus in Sophocles' "Oedipus Rex"

1362 words - 5 pages "Oedipus Rex", written by Sophocles takes place in the city of Thebes. The chorus within the play represents, for the most part, the people of Thebes, giving them a significant role in the play. There are several specific purposes for which the chorus is utilized. These include providing the audience with background information and summaries of recent events, allowing for scene changes, entrances and exits and indicating the passage of time

The Role of Faith and the Gods in Oedipus Rex

1947 words - 8 pages A common struggle man faces is the question of who or what has power and control over his life. Does he have total control of his future, or is there a higher being at work that takes human lives into their own hands? Sophocles, in his work Oedipus Rex, establishes a view that gives fate, which is created by the gods, a seemingly inescapable characteristic over man. The role of fate is clearly defined, through the fulfillment of divine

Fate and The Circunstancial Downfall of Character in Oedipus Rex

698 words - 3 pages treatment of Goneril, and Regan. The play “Oedipus Rex” and other tragedies that were held throughout the Greek Theatre Era can be considered a forerunner in the consequential downfall labeling of the themes used in the plays of tragedy.

Ensnared by the Gods in Oedipus Rex

1146 words - 5 pages Ensnared by the Gods in Oedipus Rex    A citizen of Periclean Athens may not have been familiar with the term entrapment, but he or she would surely have recognized the case of Oedipus as such.  The tragedy of Oedipus is that he was ensnared by the gods.  As Teiresias points out, "I say that with those you love best you live in foulest shame unconsciouslyÖ" (italics mine)  God is continuously indicted for having caused Oedipusí troubles

The Punishment of the King/Oedipus Rex

1156 words - 5 pages At the end of Sophocles' Oedipus Rex, Oedipus, king of Thebes, ends up banished forever from his kingdom. Additionally, Oedipus physically puts out his own eyes, for several reasons which will be discussed later. The question is: Did Oedipus deserve his punishments? There are many factors that must be considered in answering this, including how Oedipus himself felt about his situation. His blinding was as much symbolic as it was physical pain

The Tragic Hero of Oedipus Rex

1835 words - 7 pages The Tragic Hero of Oedipus Rex According to the ancient Greeks and Aristotle the hero is a person who possesses superior qualities of mind and body, and who proves his superiority by doing great deeds of valor, strength, or intellect. In Sophocles' Oedipus Rex the main character Oedipus possesses these characteristics of a true hero, which in turn lead to his self-destruction. In the beginning of the play Oedipus's great intellect is

Oedipus Complex in Oedipus Rex

1033 words - 4 pages Human psychology has changed very little over the years, people experienced the same conscious and sub-conscious emotions in that past as people experience today. There have been a few pieces of literature which were written many years ago, but still manage to captivate an audience today. Among these pieces of literature is Oedipus the King, by Sophocles. Not only does the story of Oedipus still engross an audience in its plot, but it still

The Harmartia of Heroes Sophocles Oedipus Rex

1334 words - 5 pages The Harmartia of HeroesThe hamartia of the three tragic heroes lead to regret, exile, and death. The tragic hero of each of the three selections of literature displays flaws leading to their ultimate demise. In Sophocles' play Oedipus Rex, King Oedipus is unable to control his temper, and as such finds the harsh truth. In Antigone, another play of Sophocles, Creon's stubbornness leads to his depression and regret in handling the situation he is

tragoed The Tragic Figure of Oedipus the King (Oedipus Rex)

945 words - 4 pages , when Choragos asked what god drove him to blind himself. Oedipus' pride stood in the way of a life full of happiness. Sophocles ends this tragic story by warning his audience not to take anything for granted lest they suffer like Oedipus - a lesson many should carefully consider.   Works Cited Brooks, Cleanth. Understanding Drama. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1948. 573-585. Dodds, E.R. "On Misunderstanding the Oedipus Rex

Characters in Oedipus Rex

651 words - 3 pages The classic, Oedipus Rex by Homer, has been labeled a classic for a reason. The story has a brilliantly written plot with zero flaws in its planning. Because of its lack of flaws, the story has zero holes or mistakes to be pondered upon. The story owes its brilliance to its characters. The characters within Homer’s Oedipus Rex carry massive amounts of symbolism and are very well thought through. King Oedipus, the king of thebes as well as the

Similar Essays

Women In Oedipus Rex Essay

2876 words - 12 pages Women in Oedipus Rex               Charles Segal in Oedipus Tyrannus: Tragic Heroism and the Limits of Knowledge explains one of the pivotal functions of Jocasta in Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex:   The second series begins with Jocasta. . . .Now Oedipus is pursuing the killer as possibly the same as himself. . . . In this set his goal shifts gradually from uncovering the murderer to discovering his own parents. The confidence and power

Oedipus Rex – The Women Essay

2873 words - 11 pages Oedipus Rex – The Women                 Charles Segal in Oedipus Tyrannus: Tragic Heroism and the Limits of Knowledge explains the protagonist’s concern for Jocasta’s burial in Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex:    Oedipus turns from his utter desolation and abasement to something of his old air of command, albeit in a chastened and softened tone. He asks Creon to expel him from Thebes as quickly as he can and gives orders for Jocasta’s

The Role Of Fate In Oedipus Rex

785 words - 4 pages Fate plays a very important role in Oedipus Rex as it is clearly inescapable and is not subject to change by free will, or even the will of the Gods. We learn of the prophecy given to Laius and Jocasta that their son will kill his father and marry his mother. Upon the birth of Oedipus, Laius and Jocasta send for a shepherd to come and take him away to be killed so that the prophecy cannot be fulfilled. Throughout the story we are continually

The Theme Of Oedipus Rex Essay

913 words - 4 pages In Greek mythology, one of the major themes is the importance of fate and free will. The story of Oedipus Rex is a perfect example that shows this theme. The major theme explored in Oedipus Rex is that fate and free will are intertwined with the main character, Oedipus. Oedipus is not only fated to perform such detestable acts, but his infamous behavior (which leads him to commit these terrible acts) determines his fate. The crimes that he