15 June 2009
Oedipus the King, by Sophocles
It’s amazing how far a person will go to not believe what is right in front of their own eyes. Whereas, Oedipus knows that he acted alone when he killed a man in similar circumstances, Jocasta says that she was told that Laios was killed by a group of “strangers.” They then both go on later to tell each other about their own prophecies. Jocasta feels she can tell Oedipus of the prophecy that her son would kill his father, and Oedipus can tell her about the similar prophecy given him by an oracle, and neither feels compelled to remark on the coincidence. Nor do they remark upon how Oedipus can hear the story of Jocasta binding her child's ankles and not think of his own swollen feet. While the information in these speeches is largely intended to make the audience painfully aware of the tragic irony, it also greatly shows just how desperately Oedipus and Jocasta do not want to speak the obvious truth. They both look at the circumstances and details of everyday life and pretend not to see them.
All of this shows irony but mostly it shows how willing Oedipus is to ignore what is right in front of him, King Oedipus goes on to say:
“I must bring what is dark to light. You shall see how I stand by you, as I should to avenge the city and the city’s god, to be rid of evil. Until now I was a stranger to this tale, as I had been a stranger to the crime. If any man knows by whose had Laios, son of Labdakos, met his death, I direct that man to tell me everything.” Sophocles 1289-1291
This just shows how certain Oedipus is of himself, and of how he knows he didn’t do it, that somehow he is still able to deny to himself and others that he was King Laios’s murderer, meaning he’d killed his own father.
Mistakes and wrongs toward other people will be paid for was fore told by Teiresias, the prophet, and carried out by Jocasta, and once again, King Oedipus....