Essay on Oedipus: Oedipus and Audience

Submitted By liatee
Words: 1429
Pages: 6

Lia Thompson

Mrs. Kosuta


Wednesday March 7th, 2012

The Portrayal of Imagery

A piece of writing whether it be a novel or play, can have different approaches developed by the author to hold the reader or audience’s attention. One may simply write a story that does not rely on the emotions it evokes in their reader or audience, and other authors may specifically want to take their reader or their audience on a journey that keeps them emotionally attached to the characters and the story right to the last page. In Sophocles’ Oedipus The King, it is evident that Sophocles wrote the play with the intentions of keeping his audience emotionally attached to the characters. His motive for doing this is that he wanted to leave the audience impacted by what they saw or read. Oedipus, being the tragic hero in this Greek tragedy goes through this devastating journey where he starts off ruling Thebes as king, and ends up in a horrific state where every prophecy given to him was revealed to be true, leaving him blind and completely ruined. Sophocles uses many examples of dark imagery to inflict distress and pain on the viewers. The imagery of nature and sickness are also used to create a disturbing tone and sense of pity and lastly, sexual imagery is used throughout the play to generate unsettling thoughts and lasting impressions that leave the audience feeling uneasy. The audience or reader develops a connection to the characters due to these reoccurring themes of imagery, which cause viewers to reach catharsis because of the chaotic, corrupted, sinful acts portrayed by the imagery. Throughout the play, Oedipus is in search for the truth but stays ignorant to it even though the truth reveals itself many times to him. Oedipus stays oblivious to the fact that he is the murderer of his father up until the end. The audience has this knowledge and feels pity for Oedipus. The whole play has an eerie tone to it and it is portrayed that way because of the use of dark imagery. In the very beginning of the play, the priest explains the upsetting conflict Thebes and its people are experiencing. “The city is like a ship rolling dangerously; it has lost the power to right itself and raise its head up out of the waves of death...The black god of death is made rich with wailing and funeral laments” (Sophocles 6). The use of dark imagery to explain the suffering causes the release of pitiful emotions. The state of Thebes and Oedipus is chaotic and disturbing and it not normal for a city or for people. When imagery is used to express unusual circumstances, it leads the audience to feel the chaos of the situation. “Darkness, dark cloud all around me, enclosing me, unspeakable darkness, irresistible-you came to me on a wind that seemed favorable. Ah. I feel the stab of these sharp pains, and with it the memory of my sorrow” (Sophocles 74). To the audience, Oedipus is portrayed as one with such noble intentions, one who cares about his people. “My children, I am filled with pity... my spirit within me mourns for the city, and myself, and all of you” (Sophocles 7). The audience believes Oedipus to be one of such great character and then his downfall leaves the audience with catharsis. Oedipus explains his sorrows with dark imagery to add a vivid component to his suffering. The audience, having been experiencing Oedipus’ journey along with him, is connected to the story and the distress is far greater because of the memorable imagery. Not only is the imagery of darkness presenting the audience with the sense of chaos, the imagery of nature and sickness develops the audience’s emotions further, causing disturbing images of corruption to be brought to attention. The people of Thebes are being tormented by a plague that they cannot do anything about. Although it is up to Oedipus to fix the problem by discovering who the murderer of king Laius is, the people of Thebes experience death and suffering where they are left hopeless, unable