15 February 2014
Oedipus Rex – Themes
Good intention does not release one from responsibility.
Epilogue – Page 4 – Creon – “Exile, or recompense of death for death; since tis this blood makes winter to the city.” Creon explains to Oedipus that the killer of Laius is still alive and within the city of Thebes. The killer must be exiled or killed for the plague to be lifted from the city of Thebes. Oedipus agrees with the intention to capture and exile the killer. Later, when Oedipus knows that he is the killer, he cannot be released from the responsibility of being exiled.
The bigger they are, the harder they fall.
Exidos/Exodos – Page 51 – Oedipus – “Will ye seek answer for a wretch like me.” This quote is a response to Creon. The quote signifies that Oedipus now considers himself a wretch for the deeds he has done in his lifetime. The quote further demonstrates the timeline of Oedipus’ life, savior, hero, king and villain.
Fate punishes the proud.
Episode 1 – Page 16 – Oedipus – “Well, if I save this city, I care not. This quote is in direct reference to Tiresias who is trying to tell Oedipus the truth. As he explains what has occurred, Oedipus mocks him and states that he is the hero of the city and cares of nothing. This further demonstrates Oedipus and his large hubris.
Oh the irony!
Epilogue – Page 4 – Oedipus – “So I did hear; I never saw the man.” Oedipus is speaking of the dead King Laius. Ironically, Oedipus has in fact seen King Laius. He saw him when he killed him at the crossroads, he just doesn’t know it yet.
Can action cause a change in destiny?
Epilogue – Page 4 – Oedipus – “How runs the oracle? I am not confident nor prone to fear at what you say, so far.”
Whenever Oedipus attempts to change fate, this is ironic to the audience who knows that the tragic outcome of the story cannot be avoided. Oedipus tries to change the future predicted by the Oracles. Regardless of his attempts his future is already determined.
Choice vs. destiny – which truly governs?
Episode 2 – Page 26 – Jocasta – “Now set you free from thought of that you talk of; listen and learn, nothing in human life turns on the soothsayer’s art.
Jocasta is against destiny and is the representation of choice. She advises Oedipus to live by chance regardless of his determined fate. In this quote, she explains nothing in human life ever works like the oracle says it will.
The unwillingness to see the truth causes problems.
Episode 1 – Page 14 – Tiresias – “I say that you are Laius’ murderer – he whom you seek.”
During the play, Tiresias, a blind prophet, comes in to talk to Oedipus. He tells Oedipus that the killer that Oedipus seeks is himself. Oedipus refuses to believe Tiresias and suspects a scheme, with the objective of dethroning him. Oedipus has the choice in believing the blind prophet but can’t, because his pride will not let him.
Crossroads (could be literally, or figuratively i.e. a crossroads in life, etc.)
Episode 2 – Page 26 – Oedipus – “I thought I heard you say Laius was slain Where three roads meet!” This quote represents Oedipus and his conversation with Jocasta about Laius’ death. Jocasta has told Oedipus that Laius was murdered at a place where three roads meet. This is the first time that Oedipus begins to suspect that he might be involved in the death of King Laius.
Who has “sight” and who is “blind”?
Exidos/Exodos - Page 48 – 1 Senator – “I know not how to say thou hast done well; For it were better for thee now to die, Than to live on in blindness.” This quote refers to…