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OEDIPUS THE KING FINAL DISCUSSION QUESTIONS.

By: Sarah-Layne Nossack


1.

Oedipus himself as well as Iocaste suffer hubris in this play, this excessive pride is expressed as anger
which contributes to the tragedy by making the final resolution more awful for these two characters. This
expression of hubris makes the final resolution of the play more awful for these characters because while
being forced to fulfill a prophecy of plagued action and pain they also lose their pride in trials of ended
friendships and wrong accusations. Dignity and pride are lost because of the hubris placed upon these
characters when they refuse anyone elses word but their own, mock the gods, and let their temper be
tempted. The audience of Oedipus: The King by Sophocles, know that the characters whom display such
hubris are Iocaste and Oedipus because of quotations like What help were you too these people? Her
magic was not for the first man who came along: it demanded a real exorcist. Your birds-what good were
they? or the gods, for the matter of that? But I came by, Oedipus, the simple man, who knows nothing-I
thought it out for myself, no birds helped me! And this is the man you think you can destroy. (Oedupis, page
969, lines 175-183) as well as Iocastes Set your mind at rest. If it is a question of soothsayers, I tell you
that you will find no man that craft gives knowledge of the unknowable. (Iocaste, page 977, lines 181-185)
These quotations directly express the hubris between these two characters because Oedipus displays
himself so highly, and mocks the gods for not being able to do as much as he. Through these lines,
Oedupiss tragic flaw revelaed. His arrogance and excessive pride prove to the audence that Oedipus is the
hubris filled man who does not need anyone, including the gods but ends up needing people when the real
tragedy of the play is revealed. Iocastes quotation also undermines the gods but not quite to the extent that
Oedipus does.Iocaste seems to do this subconsciously. Although she does not come out and directly mock
the gods, she does state that soothsayers are not reliable, and since soothsayers are close to the gods
because of their knowledge and abilities Iocaste is mocking both the soothsayers and the gods. We know
soothsayers are close to the gods because of Teiresiass quotation I am not your servant, but Apollos
(Teiresias, page 969, lines 193-194) Her hubris and Oedipuss hubris together, reflect how they both
somewhat led to their own demise. This quotation by Oedipus also shows that excessive pride is expressed
in anger. Since Oedipus is constantly making fun of Teiresias, trying to make him feel bad so that Oedipus
himself can feel right about the situation.Oedipus calls out Teiresiass abilities to shame him, Oedipuss pride
is so large that he must be able to feel like the better man in order to hear this terrible truth, since
subconsciously, he might know what is to come. Iocaste shows that anger is expressed as excessive pride
in the quotation For Gods love, let us have no more questioning! Is your life nothing to you? My own pain is
enough for me to bear. (Iocaste, page 985, lines 140-143) and Ah, miserable! That is the only word I have
for you now. That is the only word I can ever have. (Iocaste, page 986, lines 152-154) These lines show
how quick tempered and panicked Iocaste is towards Oedipuss realizations. This subconscious anger is
used as a panicked attempt to keep her husband in the dark and to be able to keep their life in happy peace.
She is showing her excessive pride through this anger because she is too prideful to admit to her plagueful
actions, she does not want to admit to this wrongdoing but instead stay ignorant, this attempt at anger is to
convince Oedipus to stay ignorant as well. This contributes to the tragedy because of how hard Iocaste and
Oedipus fight to outrun their prophecy. If the characters were to quickly accept their fate, the play would be
less tragic. But because the characters use their tragic flaws to try and defeat their downfall as characters,
we see their desperation.

2.

Metaphors of blindness and sight are important in this play to emphasize and contrast the difficulties the
characters have to face because they are metaphorically blind, to the advantages the characters have
because they literally are blind. The paradox of being blind but being able to see and being able to see but
being blind are two concepts that are repeated throughout the play many times, in order to emphasize the
role blindness and sight play in the downfall of the tragic hero. Oedipus very obviously is a blind man,
because he cannot see his own faults and cannot look past his own arrogance to believe anyone who tries
to give him sight. Creon has the gift of sight because although he may not know or understand the entirety of
what is happening, he knows that Oedipus is wrong, and can see that there is something further to be
addressed. Teiresias is literally a blind man, but his ability to see into the future and ability to understand
Oedipuss character makes him the one character in this play that has the most sight. Iocaste, like Oedipus
is quite blind, but less blind than Oedipus because she does in fact come to realize the situation sooner than
Oedipus, subconsciously and otherwise...she just chooses to deny it.There are many quotations within this
play that address the blindness that the characters are plagued with. You mock my blindness, do you? But I
say that you, with both your eyes, are blind: You cannot see the wretchedness of your life. (Teiresias, page
969, lines 195-197) and No more, no more shall you look on the misery about me, the horrors of my own
doing! Too long you have known the faces of those whom I should never have seen, too long been blind to
those for whom I was searching! From this hour, go in darkness! (Oedipus, page 991, lines 45-50) are

examples of how blindness and sight shape the main character, Oedipus. In the first quotation the blindness
is only metaphorical, Oedipus can physically see, but he is blind to the world around him and the troubles he
will face. In the second quotation, Oedipus has physically blinded himself, and although now he cannot see
the world around him, he can see clearer the horrors that he has brought upon himself and he begins to
have realizations about the life he led. This contrast of paradoxes further enhances the characters tragedy.
These paradoxes of blindness and sight explain to the audience that physical blindness, and metaphorical
blindness are entirely different concepts that affect the plot and characters differently, very often causing a
character development, character tragedy and downfall, and dramatic irony within the play.
3.

Oedipus contributes to his own tragedy by mocking the gods, by being excessively prideful, and by trying to
avoid and cheat fate. There is no way Oedipus could have avoided is fate that the audience knows, but
there are ways that he could have taken actions to make his fate less tragic. This implies that with the theme
of fate versus free will, fate will always triumph because there is only so much free will a character really has
before fate takes over and claims the life of the character to manipulate into fulfilling a prophecy that must be
fulfilled. This mocking of the gods is even apparent within the chorus in lines such as Haughtiness and the
high hand of disdain tempt and outrage Gods holy law; and any mortal who dares hold no immortal power in
awe will be caught up in a net of pain. (Chorus;Strophe 2, page 981, lines 21-25) This quotation shows that
his mocking and undermining of the gods not only contributed to the tragedy but is well known by many, who
saw it coming. This is foreshadowed in the line will be caught up in a net of pain. as Oedipus is at the end
of his trials. Another factor that contributed to this tragedy is Oedipuss excessive pride, that causes him to
predispose the future. This predisposition occurs when Oedipus claims himself to bear a famous name, and
need no help from the gods while sentencing the murderer to death. Since Oedipus is so sure of his abilities
to find the killer, he already decides what the future shall bring. If Oedipus did not have such an excessive
pride that predisposed the future, he would not have sentenced himself to death. This death sentence is
evident in the lines (Oedipus, page 965-966, lines 29-34) As for the criminal, I pray to God-whether it be a
lurking thief, or one of a number-I pray that that mans life be consumed in evil and wretchedness. And as for
me, this curse applies no less if it should turn out that the culprit is my guest here, sharing my hearth. You
have heard the penalty. Oedipus also makes the mistake of trying to cheat his fate by moving away from his
supposed parents. Ultimately this leads him right to the prophecy, if he would have understood the
superiority of the gods and realized that he could not outsmart them, then there is a small chance his life
would have been spared its tragic doom. Although there were actions Oedipus could have taken to lessen
the extent of the tragedy presented, such as not wrongfully accusing his companions, acting out of anger,
mocking the gods, and being too prideful to listen to others...he could not have completely changed his fate
to live a greater life. This implies that fate will always be dominant over the free will of someone, of Oedipus.
Slight changes of severity could have been made by the gods if Oedipus had not acted out so arrogantly, but
essentially the prophecy and fate had to be fulfilled. Oedipus lives a life of cruel damnations forced onto him
by the wrongdoings of his father, and fate will have to be honoured in order to free the city of plague.

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