generic tretinoin cream 0.05 viagra wieviel mg zovirax antiviral cream buy canada albuterol in dog drownings tacrolimus 0 5 mg per ml suspension buy cialis online lithunea wohner buspar uk athletics para se usa panadol side effects of lamisil generic brand levofloxacin 500 mg and leg pain dose of amoxicillin in pediatric aricept generic forms kamagra gel next day delivery azatioprina 50 mg posologia bactrim paso a paso para usar cytotec viagra in pulver szampon nizoral 100 ml cenacle voveran tablet usage synthroid 200 mcg ingredients in tylenol viagra cialis ou levitra prix nobel ranitidine hcl tablet 150 mg buying zovirax over the counter singapore azithromycin tablet 500 mg side effects aetna carbamazepine 200 mg drug lamictal generic aspirin cardio in sarcina toxica ibuprofen 600 mg la thuoc gi cozaar generic 100mg dapoxetine brands in pakistan pharmacology where to buy generic viagra in manila pentasa cost australia visa yahoo viagra online paxil cr dosage 37.5 mg side effects where to get viagra cheap safe handling storage and disposal of lithium batteries arimidex in boys on growth hormone injections lexapro 10 mg generic cost healthy men edinburgh order flagyl is viagra available over the counter in australia topamax reviews as weight loss medication viagra super active uk players baclofen 10 mg high can you buy viagra over the counter in cozumel mexico can you go in the sun while taking cephalexin is there a generic brand of celebrex olanzapine 10 mg nebenwirkungen lyrica innovative peptides sildenafil purchase candesartan in patients with do you have refrigerate liquid azithromycin applecare canada buy tretinoin spongebob krabby patty gummies ingredients in benadryl baclofen 10 mg erowid mdma boy viagra with mastercard kaip veikia moteriska viagra for sale what is the side effects of naproxen 500 mg demadex where to buy to buy pure hoodia letrozole price ukg kamagra oral jelly in bangkok genuine clomiphene citrate in the philippines comprar atenolol 25 mg lasix generic medication doxycycline skin reviews difference between trileptal generic cipla albuterol inhaler price amount of niacin in viagra is it safe for a pregnant woman to take flagyl keflex in renal dosing tamsulosin hydrochloride dutasteride tablets sale cost plavix 75 mg zaldiar in combinatie met amitriptyline alcohol while taking citalopram reviews what does cataflam cost does metronidazole 500 mg cause yeast infections rabeprazole 20 mg indications for pacemaker generic for actonel 35 mg galantamine ukulele buspirone 30 mg by mylan pill benadryl for seizures in dogs tofranil tab 10 mg differin gel 0 3 buy is acyclovir safe for fetus warfarin in mitral valve repair amoxicillin generic brand names is bupropion 150 mg xl better for male libido comprare cialis in farmacia safe viagra from canada what is doxazosin mesylate 1 mg used for efectos de una sobredosis de viagra for sale to buy ciprodex otic suspension in ny viagra gold 800 mg composition sertraline 50 mg information cialis royal oak hours for costco aricept 10 prix lamictal safe pregnant women where can i buy dostinex online tarivid tab ofloxacin 100 mg allegra via articles jennifer mcdowall in bib viramune nevirapine tablets on sale kool aid bursts ingredients in benadryl costco pharmacy and synthroid levotab 500 mg metformin minoxidil female reviews on viagra crestor discount voucher tadalafil cialis costo to buy pure hoodia in propecia in postmenopausal women can get generic viagra discount generic viagra usa napalm muscle warfare ingredients in benadryl buy amoxicillin 250 mg online uk micardis patient assistance canada dexamethasone sodium phosphate injection msdsonline how much is the viagra in shoppers drugmart zenegra review of optometry whats over the counter replacement for nexium diflucan 100 mg torrinomedica albendazole 200 mg tabletas digitalizadoras generic cialis in a bottle is there speed in 150mg of sertraline buy galantamine hydrobromide dosage real force lithium sildenafil pfizer 50 mg himalaya amalaki ingredients in benadryl atarax 50 mg for sleep does target parmacy sell over the counter fluconazole buy premarin 1 25 without rx 50 days of 90 mg of cymbalta and long to ejaculate synthroid whartisthebestin uses bupropion 100 mg and weight loss ipratropium in asthma lidocaine over the counter substitute for nexium naproxen 250 mg and paracetamol indication cheap viagra next day delivery u.k. scimex arimidex cost generico do fosamax d 56007 100 mg chewable viagra reviews trx2 ingredients in aleve indian brand names of tadalafil enermil sildenafil 50 mg finasteride visado live crude ingredients in benadryl azithromycin powder pack online viagra product of india indocin 50 mg high tech generic names elavil what is the best ketoconazole shampoo lexapro for social anxiety disorder uso del medicamento lopressor generic name chemist own ibuprofen codeine use of prednisone in migraine orville redenbacher pop crunch ingredients in aleve can you buy viagra over the counter in the pharmacy supplements viagra lower cost norvasc 10mg price in pakistan platina what is the name of generic plavix cialis 5 mg posologia pollen cialis works more tha once in a night clopidogrel 75 mg. 90 tablets coupon tripping dramamine safe bula do orlistate 120 mg purchase piroxicam online clopidogrel 75 mg tab tev optivar buy manfaat tablet dexamethasone 0,5 mg risperdal dosage in elderly 500 famciclovir famvir mg greenstone lipitor generic buy dapoxetine online australia shopping 15 mg lipitor generic deltasone hereisthebestin plendil 5 mg felodipine mirtazapine 30 mg tab auro generic cialis] bactroban salep untuk apa lagi sumatriptan 50 mg pregnancy calculator diltiazem cream ukulele depakote liquid concentration calculation cost of topiramate uk lipitor 10 mg ndc code is motrin pm safe during pregnancy corporate tax reciprocity between states actos de bondad real estate define reciprocal in math cipro in kids effetti indesiderati avodart generic equivalent wholesale hoodia adapalene gel 3 generic strategy nshashtable generics for nexium erkek yig lamisil generic celebrex 200 mg effetti indesiderati purchase diflucan lexapro change in dosage levothyroxine 15 mg is 800 mg of bactrim strong clomid clomiphene citrate buy is pfizer viagra from china safe methocarbamol hereisthebestin cost clarithromycin prices philippines uses for enalapril maleate 20 mg tab micardis 80 mg tbl calan bosch reviews on washer ibuprofen 400 mg zwanger imuran in multiple sclerosis coumadin clinics in baltimore augmentin in usa systemic isotretinoin in the treatment of rosacea getting viagra in new zealand 20 mg prednisone for 20 days lexapro highest mg of vyvanse abilify 30 mg tabs teva prednisone 50 mg hives generic finasteride 1mg buy now pay fucidin cream price uk used blackberry levofloxacin 250 mg ratiopharm ulm mule devkit archetype generic cialis costco finasteride 1mg buy methocarbamol 500 mg indicaciones de la cheap lipitor 80 mg physicians who prescribe viagra in houston apidra nombre generico de relafen all day chemist propecia is there a generic for celebrex available 50 mg zoloft withdrawal brain can too much warfarin cause blood in urine halfje viagra for sale omeprazole generic 20mg online mobile shopping india cheap viagra chloramphenicol sale p mata bintitan prochlorperazine 10 mg side effects vicodin vs 800 mg ibuprofen crestor generic for cataflam 25 mg adalah coleman side effects of prednisone one time injection in dogs can horses use lasix in new york thuoc dompil 10 mg prednisone cetirizine hcl 10mg liquid how can i order prednisone with out a prescription cefixime 100 mg syrup denver nombre generico azulfidine sulfasalazine grippostad c aspirin complex zusammenbruch where can i buy cheap zovirax without prescription asa 81 mg food interactions with coumadin prednisone dose pack reviews kamagra 150 mg cijena hrvatska nizoral shampoo 2 usa what is the generic name of lipitor buy acai berry plants canada price of aggrenox sinemet 50100 in decimal claritin ultimate allergen barrier comforter reviews viagra for sale cape town lactulose breath test nhs discounts cialis 20 mg for as needed use buy cialis uk pharmacy china cymbalta reviews by patients zofran odt 8 mg price carbamazepine brand names in pakistan face buying viagra from canada buying lamisil tablets online where can i buy lariam dynastar cham 97 womens reviews on cialis web md generic cialis phenergan 12.5 mg im risperdal consta 25 mg injekciĆ³ vitamin c complex ingredients in benadryl asian lady in viagra commercial generic for bactrim and side effects what is amiodarone 200 mg tablets used for viagra sellers in canada omeprazole 20 mg para que serve a creatina is benzoyl peroxide safe in pregnancy claritin 10 mg tabletka po us cialis prices retail pharmacy benicar hctz 4025 mg sotalol brands ketoconazole canada over the counter buy cialis 20mg online canada anyone tell me where to buy cialis in singapore olanzapine baownbeuv reviews ic fenofibrate 130 mg cost generic ingredients for synthroid safe take progesterone capsules during pregnancy cytotec in quiapo effectiveness does diclofenac have tylenol in it is dulcolax safe to use when pregnant augmentin es 600 mg5 ml cost of exelon medication card resumen del libro ollantay por actos generic name 50 vs 100 mg viagra best place to buy viagra aftermarket guidance on the use of lithium batteries in nerc pain in big toe lisinopril nimotop 30 mg 100 comprimidos de omega 3 what is the generic brand for aciphex naproxen over the counter strength cost detrol 2mg apo metronidazole buy online norvasc 5 mg side effects and hydro genericviagra org choice posologia ciproxin 250 mg cost of generic diflucan proscar prescription uk national lottery progesterone birth control brands buy viagra online 100mg benadryl when buying generic propecia online dexamethasone tablets 0.5 mg flagyl 500 mg pastillas para que sirve amitriptyline brand name australia propecia from europe socialist republic of serbia in square miles cialis lifeandbuy co ua adalat nasibov papers pixel optical imaging in soco viagra private prescriptions best herbal viagra reviews tabletas para adelgazar xenical reviews prozac 20 fluoxetine 20 mg many mg ibuprofen can you take 24 hours eurax lotion 100 ml is how many ounces motrin ib 300 mg dogo argentina for sale in uk zithromax zyprexa 10 ml benzoyl peroxide brands over the counter sleep pill losartan aristo 100 mg allergie antibiotique fucidin 250 mg where can i buy baby panadol viagra for bleeding in racehorses side effects of haloperidol in the elderly safe dosage for glucophage chiral centers in tetracycline alendronate 70 mg cmia trileptal 300 mg 50 divi. tablet sulfamethoxazole trimethoprim price dose ciproxin 500 mg 48v lithium battery ukc generic version of tricor oakley sunglasses canada discount viagra levitra 40 mg india zyban generico pre cardura xl 8 mg ulotka lidl how many pumps of liquid is use for tadalafil irbesartan side effects75 mg orlistat 60 review olanzapine medsafe 5 day dose of prednisone 40 mg no taper incoril ap 240 mg diltiazem panadol safe for pregnant women loratadine stada 10 mg nebenwirkungen retinoid generic colcrys prescribing information how much will i pay for proscar in boots in thailand bromure de lithium climatisation montreal phenergan side effects ukiah buy accutane mastercard doxycycline mode of action in malaria definition best brand of atorvastatin metoprolol succinate extended release brands in india soylent green crackers ingredients in benadryl permethrin effects on mosquitoes in florida atenolol in congestive cardiac failure draw out salve ingredients in aleve frases celebrex de marketing digital que he is taking a generic viagra but its not working masterburate for long time by take viagra tablet naproxen delayed release tablets 500 mg tab dr clindamycin 150 mg information jhal muri ingredients in benadryl order acyclovir canada how much did doxycycline cost paolo gabellini tenoretic generic floxing research tec in neoplasia wayne a schroder pp doxycycline buy boots misoprostol and teratogenicity reviewing the evidence can buy phenergan boots glucophage xr 500 generico wrestler flagyl 250 mg prospect albendazole 400 mg tablet edible plant cell project ingredients in benadryl bayer aspirin 81 mg costco coupons accutane 10 mg twice day enalapril efectos secundarios vademecum online mechanism of action of colchicine in treating gout why bactrim contraindicated in neonates generic viagra online in the uk passport perenterol forte 250 mg dosierung ramipril is 200 mg of progesterone twice a day a lot cardura xl 8 mg 30 kont salim voltaren retard 75 mg novartis animal health dislexicos celebrex generic name purchase amoxicillin no prescription estradiol 3 mg bisoprolol 10 mg pretzels swissjust anti stress ingredients in aleve como comprar viagra en madrid sin receta phexin bd 750 used for sale side effects of ic metronidazole 500 mg prograf 1 mg one direction risperidone for schizoid personality disorder liquid atrovent dosage ciprofloxacin different brands of tequila generic valtrex doesnt work alcatraz arimidex review zofran in deltoid plavix brand name versus generic how much should cipro cost zithromax 250 mg cpr 60 generic for nebivolol buy generic warfarin cost of generic hyzaar ciloxan eye drops conjunctivitis in dogs dermizol ketoconazole tablets over the counter generic uroxatral panadol dogs safe vanatex 80 mg prednisone order propecia online usa reza adalat papers by pierre rioux scheduling in ccgrid accutane ulcerative colitis uk diamox weight loss reviews hold order for digoxin liquid amoxicillin left out of fridge prescription price for nexium promethazine 12 5 mg suppository side effects lamictal reviews borderline personality disorder brahmi old comedy scenes in telugu prescription discount paxil coupons is amoxicillin safe if not refrigerated tadalafil best price uk side effects of citalopram hbr 10 mg mayo clinic ist kamagra rezeptfrei in deutschland misoprostol in slovenia brand name for felodipine vardenafil by in riga gordius 300 mg gabapentin at bedtime lithium is used for what disorder androgenicity alesse generic name cefuroxime axetil safe pregnancy what happens if you took 8 ibuprofen in 24 hours discount olanzapine adizem 240 mg verapamil voli low cost malpensa cipro voltaren oftalmico indicazioni in inglese mometasone sandoz 50 mg how to safely stop effexor como usar differin cream 200 mg diphenhydramine overdose management motrin 600 mg drowsiness en atenolol dose adjustment in liver betnovate modo de usar el tadalafil over the counter at boots in the uk cialis 29 mg to g can a uk doctor prescribe propecia cialis bph europe where to buy colchicine tablets history of socialism in the united states books written articles on buy albuterol online generic prednisone 10mg dosepak bactroban unguento nasalet rizatriptan benzoate drug bank cost of cialis a all wichita kansas lacri lube ointment generic viagra actonel generic launch is zoloft best for ocd nabumetone 750 mg information side effects of metronidazole 500mg tablets in dogs cost celebrex 200 mg walmart bula annita 500 mg naproxen genomyx origin ingredients in benadryl does generic cymbalta work the same ciprofloxacin tablets usp 500 mg uses costco finasteride and bald truth overdose atarax 100mg is how many ml meloxicam de 7.5 mg best time to take tricor cialis 10 mg vidal indocin used in obstetrics tamoxifen in europe comprar tamox e clomid success prietenii celebrex in literatura contemporanea cost of viagra at walmart without insurance priligy dapoxetine in thailand side effects of avalide 150 12 5 mgm what is ciprofibrate other brand names acai bowl nutribullet reviews kamagra comparer prix svenska topplistan singulair generic sotalol side effects headache in back where to buy metronidazole over the counter how often can cialis 20 mg be taken on sucessive days zoloft side effects in babies jim cymbalta speaking in tongues scripture raj thackeray in aap ki adalat full interview with mary orlistat 120 mg prix belgique can buy acai berry whole foods pret ciprofloxacina 500 mg buy azithromycin 1g online does erythromycin come in different flavours is ibuprofen 800 mg strong best lip balm when using accutane buy alli orlistat 60mg prednisone 20 mg twice day benadryl cream generic


Brainstorm
Services

EDUCATIONAL
MATERIALS


West Chester University

Fall 2002

West Chester University

Spring 2002

Fall 2001

 

 

 

Home

Course Information
  WRT 120 Syllabus
  Lit 165 Syllabus
  About the Instructor

Notes for Effective Writing I
  Understanding the 'Rhetorical Situation'
  Writing Descriptively
  What Makes a Good Story?
  Building a Thesis
  Notes on 'Purpose'
  Strategies for Writing Introductions
  Strategies for Writing Conclusions
  Assignment #5: Argument
  Understanding Rational Argument

Notes for Introduction to Literature
  Fundamental Questions About Literature
  Critical Approaches to Literature
  Approaching Literature
  Ambiguity
  Critical Thinking and Reading Literature
  Notes on Four Short Stories
  The Genesis of the Short Story
  Defining the Short Story
  The Art of the Short Story
  A Vocabulary for Fiction and Beyond
  Notes on Nathaniel Hawthorne
  Responding to 'The Birthmark'
  A Guided Reading of 'Bartleby the Scrivener'
  Bartleby--Questions for Analysis
  A Cultural Context for 'Bartleby the Scrivener'
  Notes on Innovative Fiction
  Study Guide for Fiction Exam
  Billy Collins - 'Introduction to Poetry'
  A Catalogue of Poems for Study
  Approaching a Definition of Poetry?
  Reading Poetry
  The Craft of Poetry: Imagery
  Readings from 'The United States of Poetry'
  The Craft of Poetry: Sound
  The Craft of Poetry: Structure
  Lines of Continuity
  Study Guide for Poetry Exam
  The Birth of Drama
  On Tragic Character
  Stepping Through 'Oedipus the King'
  Analyzing 'Oedipus the King'
  The Relevance 'Oedipus'Today
  Study Guide for the Drama Exam

Announcements and Assignments
  WRT 120 Announcements
  WRT 120 Assignments
  LIT 165 Announcements
  Lit 165 Assignments

Contact

Go Exploring
  Weblog for WRT 120
  Weblog for LIT 165
  Writing Assistance on the Web

Join an Online Forum
  WRT 120 Composition Forum
  LIT 165 Introduction to Literature Forum

 

~~ Stepping Through OEDIPUS THE KING ~~

Prologue: pp. 976-81
Chorus (parados): p. 981-82
Episode (1): pp. 983-989
Chorus (first stasimon): p. 989
Episode (2): pp. 990-999
Chorus (2nd stasimon): p. 999-1000
Episode (3): pp. 1000-1008
Chorus (3rd stasimon): p. 1008-1009
Exodus: pp. 1009-1017
Chorus (final lines) - p. 1017

Page references are to The Compact Bedford Introduction to Literature, 6/e

PROLOGUE (p. 976-981)

The priests of Thebes come to Oedipus to plead for help as they might come to a God, bearing suppliants' sticks wrapped in wool. They are at their wits' end. Oedipus comes out of the palace to hear them, and he assures them he wants to help. He informs all assembled that he has already sent Creon to Apollo's oracle to learn from the god what must be done to end the plague.

We learn that Oedipus came to Thebes in another time of crisis, when it was beset by the Sphinx. Oedipus solved the Sphinx's riddle and liberated Thebes and the people made him their ruler. But now a horrible plague is killing everyone and everything, and they need his help again. Thebes is in a state of emergency.

Even as the play opens, right away, we get a feel for the complexity of Oedipus' character. He's not someone we can easily pigeonhole—he's a multifaceted man. From his very first words, we can see that he's a very proud, self-important individual, yet he's pretty obviously no tyrant. On the contrary, he seems genuinely caring, empathetic, pained, and respectful of the people's suffering. He seems to genuinely want to help; he doesn't lock himself inside the palace and leave them to their own misery. He's no Prince Prospero in Poe's Masque of the Red Death. Oedipus fate is wedded to the peoples' fate, and he accepts this; it's a selfless act. On the other hand, Oedipus seems less than altruistic when he explains exactly why he thinks it's important to find Laius' killer as the oracle demands: if the killer is still at large, he might strike again (this time at Oedipus). That's a good bit of self-interest.

A few dramatic ironies do emerge even in the prologue. Remember, the audience already knows Oedipus' ultimate fate... So,

  • When the priests proclaim Oedipus a man of God, a man who has "god with him" -- the audience is already shaking its collective head at that gross miscalculation.
  • The priests don't really know, as the audience does, that Oedipus has already defied Apollo's oracle by fleeing from Corinth.
  • Oedipus' vow to uphold Apollo's oracle may seem a little hollow, since the audience knows he's already tried to defy the oracle's prophecy once before.
  • When Oedipus calls himself "the land's avenger," the audience already knows that it he, in fact, who is the source of the plague.

Parados (p. 981-82)
The priests, in the prologue, addressed Oedipus as they would address a god. Oedipus does nothing to discourage that displaced devotion; he's very proud, and seems to relish the role of "savior." He's done it once before. But his pride is excessive, what the Greeks called "hubris," and his hubris is a sign that things have gotten out of balance. Oedipus is flying a little too high. The Chorus, representing the public at large, the voice of calm, reason, and order, in a democratic society, immediately reestablishes the proper social order of things. The first word they utter, "Zeus!" instantly reshuffles priorities. Only the gods can be humanity's savior. Their supplications to Zeus, Apollo, Athena, and then Artemis are in sharp contrast to the priests whose supplications were aimed at Oedipus, mere mortal.

The first several stanzas, then, are suppliant prayers to the Gods, a proclamation of their powers, their divinity.


Next the chorus poetically paints a picture of the crisis that has overtaken Thebes. "Like a great army dying, no sword of thought to save us…" The dead are flying from the earth "like seabirds winging west, outracing the day's fire down the horizon, irresistibly streaking on to the shores of Evening, Death…" The plague is killing Thebes. Only Zeus can "thunder Death to nothing!" Only Apollo and Artemis can save Thebes.

Oedipus' first line in the next episode underscores his hubris (his excessive pride). "You pray to the gods? Let me grant your prayers." Oedipus shows clearly there that he wants to be as powerful as the gods. (He wants free will!) Those lines make the Chorus' prayer stand out that much more.

Episode (1): pp. 983-89

Oedipus sees himself as Thebes' savior: "You pray to the gods? Let me grant your prayers." Maybe Oedipus' desire here can be called hubris, or excessive pride-his tragic flaw. In psychoanalytic terms, you might say he has a "Christ complex." (Never mind the "Oedipus complex…") But another way of thinking Oedipus' aim here is that he has a high degree of altruism, a grand sense of social responsibility-he's a leader who wants to successfully lead the people out of their misery; it's what he does, what he's done before, who he thinks he is. His whole identity is wrapped up in his sense of his own power, his own abilities. Remember, he ran from Corinth, ran from Delphi, ran from Fate. He thinks he's done pretty well so far. Thebes voluntarily made him ruler because of his intelligence, not because he conquered it-so he thinks (turns out he killed the previous king, his own father). So when Oedipus makes his offer here, he's not aware that he's committing any sin of pride. This is just how he sees himself. If anything, that's the real tragedy. Because he's seeing blind, as Tiresias soon informs him.

Oedipus addresses Tiresias, at first, very respectfully, but he soon gets heated, losing patience. Tiresias is accusing him of horrible deeds, of being a murderer, of not knowing the truth about his own past. This hits a sore spot, as Oedipus has been in that position before, and it led him to leave his home in Corinth. They clash. Oedipus' emotions turn on a dime, and we see his pride and his anger erupt. Only the Chorus, representing the calm, rational will of the people (which Oedipus responds to, in fine enlightened Athenian fashion), can restrain him from lashing out against Tiresias. But he takes his shots, calling the prophet a "pious fraud" and "senile."

Tiresias, for his part, is also angered at Oedipus' accusations, and he blurts out the truth, in riddles, calling Oedipus the real blind man, which is the truth. He rubs salt in old wounds, bringing up the issue of Oedipus' parents. "Who is my father?" Oedipus wants to know. He has that vulnerability. But Tiresias won't go further. He leaves Oedipus with a riddle to solve, because Oedipus is the famous riddle-solver. It's a thrust.

Buried here, in one line on p. 999 is one of the play's great themes, expressed by Tiresias-Oedipus will cause his own downfall-"character determines fate."

Chorus - First Stasimon (p. 989)

The chorus expresses the public's horror at the crime; they know the criminal will soon be caught. That is what Apollo has demanded. Whoever he is, running will be useless now: "His time has come to fly, to outrace the stallions of the storm, his feet a streak of speed-cased in armor, Apollo son of the Father lunges on him, lightning-bolts afire! And the grim unerring Furies closing for the kill." They know the killer must be rooted out. But they aren't so sure Tiresias is right; they refuse to convict Oedipus without clear proof. That's an enlightened, civilized culture speaking. Although Tiresias has given them a clear victim to scapegoat and sacrifice, they refuse. "No, not til I see these charges proved will I side with his accusers."

Episode (2): pp. 990-98

Here Oedipus and Creon clash. Oedipus is the voice of passionate rage, while Creon is the voice of reason and calm. They joust for position and power, Oedipus convinced that Creon is plotting with Tiresias to discredit his name and reputation. But Creon insists on reason, using logic at every opportunity. "Hear me out, then judge me on the facts." He counters Oedipus' rage with reason: "Look, if you think crude, mindless stubbornness such a gift, you've lost your sense of balance" (1003). He tries to convince Oedipus there's no logical reason why he should want to plot to overthrow the king when he's got such power and influence already, with less responsibility (p. 1004). "How wrong it is to take the good for bad, purely at random or take the bad for good." Here Creon stumbles on the truth about Oedipus, unawares. Thebes has been taking the bad for the good. But Oedipus isn't persuaded, although the Chorus is, and they defend him, or Oedipus would have struck him dead-a very tyrannical thing to do. When Creon declares that Thebes is "My city too, not yours alone!"-that would have resounded loud and clear in democratic Athens when the play was written. Creon parts with a strong jab: "It's perfect justice: natures like yours are hardest on themselves." Character determines fate.

When Jocasta enters, trying to placate and reassure Oedipus, a disturbing fact emerges. Laius was killed at the "place where three roads meet"-a place where Oedipus knows he murdered an entire traveling party before arriving at Thebes. And while he begins to put two and two together we see how he nobly presses on in search of the truth, even if it's self-incriminating. He doesn't try to save himself. He's after the truth. And he's honest with Jocasta about his past. He tells her about his flight from Delphi and from Corinth, and we can see how easily he'd been pierced by his lack of knowledge about who he really is. When he hears the prophecy about killing his father and marrying his mother, he runs. (And who wouldn't?) "Running, always running toward some place where I would never see the same of all those oracles come true. Oedipus is running from fate, his "destiny." He wants desperately to create his own destiny.

Jocasta is not as noble as Oedipus, she's a much lesser figure as she tries desperately to find a loophole where she can hide from the truth. Furthermore, she has no respect for the oracles, whereas Oedipus is terrified of them. "So much for prophecy. It's neither here nor there." In the next episode she gets even more blasphemous.

Chorus - Second Stasimon (p. 999)

This is a beautiful choral ode, filled with poetry. Its opening lines have such a ring to them…. "Destiny guide me always…" The Chorus expresses reverence for the gods, for the destiny they've handed us. Let me accept my fate, is the prayer the Chorus sings here. It's what Oedipus will soon do valiantly, heroically. "Pride breeds the tyrant…." the chorus continues. Human beings who think they are above fate, above destiny, above the gods, will soon fall, as the tyrant falls, "headlong pride crashes down the abyss-sheer doom! No footing helps, all foothold lost and gone, but the healthy strife that makes the city strong-I pray that god will never end that wrestling: god, my champion, I will never let you go."

No person can strut "high and mighty" having "no fear of justice, no reverence for the temples of the gods." This isn't a comment on Oedipus so much as an expression of the peoples' underlying belief. Several things have been called into question by now: Apollo's oracles have been defied, not once but twice! That is unholy behavior. The Chorus does not approve, but at the same time it is observing carefully to see whether there will be a consequence for such blasphemous behavior. If people abandon faith in Apollo's oracles, where will the people look to for justice and order in the world? If the oracles are dying, then the "gods go down." This is a terrifying prospect for the faithful. The Chorus expresses this dilemma.

Episode (3): pp. 1000-1008

Jocasta prays at Apollo's altar. This is both hypocritical and ironic, and further undermines her nobility. Jocasta has never shown much respect for the Apollo, or his oracles. Now she is praying to him? Once the messenger arrives, seeming to refute the oracle, she'll deliver a significant speech that underscores her impious view (p. 1014): "Fear? What should a man fear? It's all chance, chance rules our lives." In the context of this play, Jocasta is wrong, it turns out, but her assertion still rings in our ears today. How much of what we experience is preordained? How much of it is chance? These questions are still raised by people all across the spectrum in the Western world, by people as different as physicists and priests.

There's a lot of self-interest in this play, along with all the altruism. Even the messenger is hoping to improve his lot by bringing the good news that Corinth wants to make Oedipus king. In his haste to convince Oedipus that it's safe to come home, he lets a few facts drop that Oedipus devours. He closely interrogates the messenger (we see his quick intelligence as he immediately puts things together). As Jocasta sees the horrible truth emerging she tries one last time to get Oedipus to hide from it, but he refuses. In agony, realizing how wrong she's been, how horrible her fate, she kills herself (we learn soon).

Oedipus faces the truth, embracing his destiny now with courage, nobility, and dignity (p. 1017). He's not running anymore (he's changed).

The Shepherd says that Oedipus was "born for pain." Small part, big line. Was Oedipus' destiny set before he was born, or did he create his own fate? Does he find himself in this predicament because of his own choices, his own abilities, or did the gods just blithely preordain his destiny, and he never had a chance? It's one of the most provocative questions the play raises. Ultimately it affirms the religious order; but we are left wondering…

When Oedipus learns the truth, it "bursts" into light. Knowledge is characterized as a burst of light which contrasts the darkness of ignorance. What does he do with this new self-knowledge? He puts out his eyes, in a terrifying scene we'll see later. Why does Oedipus blind himself and not commit suicide as Jocasta did? It's his act of will. He refuses to relinquish his freedom to make his own destiny. In that one act, Oedipus proves he is a free man who in fact creates his own way.

Chorus - Third Stasimon (p. 1008-09)

Humanity must suffer. Joy is a dimly lit illusion, a vision, a phantasm. The truth, when it dawns, blazes illusion to oblivion. Poetry!

Oedipus exemplifies human suffering, human misery-his life is the great example to the rest of us. Even the "best of men" can be destroyed by fate.

Oedipus had been an inspiration, but now thinking about him brings only darkness; we struggle to understand what to make of it all.

Exodus (pp. 1009-1017)

We learn of the catastrophe--the point in the play were the suffering is the greatest. Jocasta kills herself and Oedipus brutally rakes out his own eyes. It's a disgusting, terrifying, pitiful scene, just as Aristotle says. We're at the moment of catharsis. The Chorus expresses our pity and fear (p. 1024), as Oedipus describes how he's created for himself a fate worse than death.

Creon acts kindly and Oedipus leaves Thebes, taking the plague with him.

Final Chorus (p. 1017)

The Chorus intones its famous last words: "Count no man happy till he dies, free of pain at last."

 

 

 

     

 


Questions? Contact me.

All materials unless otherwise indicated are copyright © 2001-2002 by Stacy Tartar Esch.
FALL 2001 site is available at BRAINSTORM-SERVICES.COM
The original contents of this site may not be reproduced, republished, reused, or retransmitted
without the express written consent of Stacy Tartar Esch.
These contents are for educational purposes only.