Pegah Espantman's Reviews > Antigone / Oedipus the King / Electra

Antigone / Oedipus the King / Electra by Sophocles
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Pegah Espantman Oedipus the King
Symbolism, Imagery & Allegory
"Sometimes, there’s more to Lit than meets the eye."
1) Eyes, Vision, and Blindness
Sophocles motifs sight vs. blindness. There are plenty of words like "see," "sight," "vision," "eyes," and "blind." Since this motif is symbolic of the pursuit of "knowledge," that word can be added , along with terms like "oracle," "truth," "prophecy," and "Apollo," since he's the god that represents all these ideas.
Though this motif of seeing and not seeing is laced throughout the beginning of the play, it first becomes crystal clear when the prophet Teiresias hobbles on stage. Teiresias is literally blind, but he can see clearly the horror that is Oedipus's past, present, and future. Oedipus's eyes work just fine, but unfortunately he's completely blind to the dreadful fate the gods have placed upon him. The doomed king's ignorance on this key matter is made even more ironic by the fact that he was made famous for his keen insight, by solving the riddle of the Sphinx.

When Oedipus finally sees the terrible truth of his life, Oedipus says he does this because he can no longer look on the horrors that his unwitting actions have created. With this most famous of gouging, Oedipus literally becomes the thing he's always metaphorically been: blind. At the end of the play, Oedipus becomes symbolic of all of humanity, stumbling forward through a dark and unknowable universe.
2) The Scars on Oedipus’s Feet
When Oedipus was three days old, his parents received a prophecy saying that he would one day kill his father. So, they pierced and bound his feet and sent him off to be abandoned on a mountainside. Oedipus survived the incident, but was left with scars on his feet. In fact, his name in Greek translates to "swollen foot."

Oedipus's scarred feet are more than a little symbolic. They highlight the fact that he has been marked for suffering from the moment of his birth. This idea that humans have no power in face of the gods. For some mysterious reason, Oedipus has always been damned, and there's not much he can do about it.

The scars also highlight the irony of Oedipus's ignorance. Although his name blatantly points attention to his scarred feet (which are the keys to discovering his identity), Oedipus doesn’t realize his true identity until it’s too late.
3) The Crossroads
Oedipus killed his father, Laius, at a place where three roads meet.
Crossroads are a traditional symbol of choice in literature. we come to an intersection and you have to decide which way to go. It's probably pretty easy to see how such a place could represent all the moments of choice in our life. In a way, every second in one's life is a tiny little crossroad. Every small choice we make affects our future in someway.

Of course, Oedipus's fate has been predetermined from birth. For their own mysterious reasons the gods have decided that it's necessary for Oedipus to have a tragic life. Oedipus does make a fateful choice at the crossroads, but it is one that he was predestined to make.

I think the three roads represent past, present, and future.

The Greek goddess of the crossroads, Hecate, was said to have three heads. Each head looked down a different path – one saw the past, one the present, and one the future. Though Hecate isn't mentioned in the play, perhaps the three-way crossroads in Oedipus the King has a similar symbolism.

Also, Oedipus was three days old when his parents abandoned him.
For one, the story is of significant size; its events have universal ramifications. The characters are of proper stature for tragedy. Oedipus is a real live hero with mostly good intentions, making his downfall all the more painful to behold.
It is Oedipus who blinds himself and begs Creon to banish him. The fact that most of these actions were the result of good intentions is what makes Oedipus's fate truly tragic.

In Oedipus this happens when the Messenger shows up from Corinth. The man tries to ease the King's mind by telling him that he's not really Polybos's son. Though the Messenger intends only good things with this information, it ends up being the thing that drives Oedipus toward his horrible fate.
Tragic, Sympathetic, Foreboding, Ironic

Plot Analysis
Initial Situation
Oedipus is aware that there is a curse on Thebes and has Creon gather insight into how to lift it .These are the circumstances at the beginning of the play. At first, it seems like this us just another "Thebes has a problem, Oedipus makes it go away," deal.
No one wants to provide any information to Oedipus about Laius’s murder. Oedipus struggles to get Teiresias, the messenger, and the shepherd to talk. He’s desperate to solve the mystery but he keeps being urged to drop it.
Oedipus begins to realize that he is somehow implicated in Laius’s murder.The more Oedipus learns, the more he wants to know. Although he is inching closer to the truth, he is damaging himself in the process.
Oedipus realizes he’s slept with his mother and killed his father. In a moment of horror, Oedipus understands what he’s done. This is the emotional and psychological climax of the play.
Oedipus enters his bedroom and sees that Jocasta has hanged herself. Oedipus sees that Jocasta, too, has realized what they’ve done. The suspense is inherent in the fact that we don’t know if Oedipus, too, will kill himself. Given that this is a Greek tragedy, we’re a little bit scared that everyone involved will suddenly commit suicide as well. It’s quite suspenseful.
Oedipus gouges his eyes out with a brooch from Jocasta’s dress.With complete knowledge of what he’s done, Oedipus inflicts injury on himself and begs to be exiled from Thebes.
Oedipus is exiled from Thebes. In the last moments of the play, Oedipus is banished from his home.
The role of Greek gods in Oedipus the King

they are very important to the story, but they have a lesser role that some other greek tales. Oedipus is abandoned by his parents (King and Queen types) because a prophecy is told that he will kill his father and marry his mother. This is Apollo. Apollo gives prophecies. So, they leave him on a mountain side to be killed. He is found and ends up in the family of another ruler that has no child and Oedipus grows up believing that this people are his true parents. He encounters his real father one day on a road and they have a fight in which Oedipus kills his father. He doesn't know that it is his father though. He goes to tell the man's wife (his mother) that he is sorry and falls in love with her. They marry. Another prophet tells on him and Oedipus is so horrified that he puts out both of his eyes. His "chance" encounter in orchestrated by one of the gods. His tragic story is really two competing gods playing with his life.

The blind prophet of Thebes appears in Oedipus the King and Antigone. In both plays, he represents the same force — the truth rejected by a willful and proud king, almost the personification of Fate itself.
Tiresias comes to Oedipus against his will, not wanting to explain the meaning of the oracle to the king, but he goes freely to Creon in Antigone, with news of his own augury. In both cases, however, after a courteous greeting, Tiresias meets with insults and rejection. Never surprised by abuse, Tiresias does not back down when threatened. True to the gift of prophetic power, he stands unflinching before the fury of kings. His speech may be barbed, his message horrifying, but Tiresias' dedication to the truth is uncompromising. For his suffering, his piety, and his devotion to prophetic truth, Tiresias emerges as a powerful — even admirable — character in the Oedipus Trilogy.

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