Saturday, September 19, 2015

Oedipus Rekt

Since our recent discussions, I am going to assume everyone is familiar with the story about Oedipus. This post is a simple summary/analysis on the reading assigned in Norton.

In Oedipus's very first speech, he says "...I would be blind to misery not to pity my people kneeling at my feet" (574). This is an obvious example of foreshadowing because we know Oedipus, "blind to the corruption of his life," later takes out his eyes when he learns the truth about his family. The city of Thebes has been struck by a plague and Creon, brother of Jocasta, who Oedipus's wife and mother, comes with good news from the god Apollo. He informs the people of Thebes that the plague is result of the murder of the former king, king Laius--if the murderer is found, the sickness that corrupts the city will be lifted. In order to find who committed the crime, Oedipus calls for Tiresias, a blind prophet. At first delighted the prophet has arrived, once Tiresias does not tell Oedipus what he wants to hear, Oedipus reacts very negatively; thus, my first impression of him was someone who was quick to anger and maybe a little hostile. He even makes fun of Tiresias's blindness! :( Tiresias, although he cannot see, "sees" everything and he knows what Oedipus has done. He finally announces that Oedipus himself is the murderer, and because of Oedipus's short fuse and the way he reacted to the prophet's words (while he didn't say much), it is not outrageous to think he could have, in fact, been the murderer (and as we already know, he was).

"Tiresias: This day will bring your birth and your destruction.
Oedipus: Riddles--all you can say are riddles, murk and darkness.
Tiresias: Ah, but aren't you the best man alive at solving riddles?" (585).
Oedipus, who equates himself with the gods and thinks he is some god-send to lead the Thebans, is very rash. He steps on the prophet and doesn't bother listening to what he has to say because it is not what he had expected. Oedipus became king of Thebes because he was able to solve the riddle of the monster that terrorized the city, so when Tiresias came back at him with this, I literally lol'ed. This was such a good comeback by Tiresias- he puts Oedipus in his place.


Jack Zheng said...

Oedipus even says that he would avenge the old king as if he was his own father! The blind man basically tells him that he killed his father and married his mother. Oedipus, however, is metaphorically blind at this point and will literally be blind later when the truth is spelled out for him. This is dramatic irony, since the audience would have known the story of Oedipus well. It certainly invokes empathy, because his actions are fairly reasonable and relatable.

Jac said...

This dramatic irony also made me laugh. I found it seriously hysterical that Oedipus is trying to put down Tiresius and Tiresius, defending himself and essentially hitting ol' Oed with the greatest comeback of the 5th century, reminds Oedipus that he (T) is the one with the omniscient knowledge. It was jawdropping to watch Oedipus blindly (haha) ignore Tiresius's statements about him being a murderous, incestuous cursed king upon Thebes. Tiresius, understandably, gets tired of fighting with Oedipus whom he knows will find out his own wrongdoing soon enough and leaves. Basically: Tiresius "pwns" Oedipus and then walks away from the scene like the comeback-savage he really is.