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Alexander Cusianovic

AP Lit. Per. 2
10/20/2015

Oedipus Rex: Character Analysis (Iocaste, Creon, Teiresias,


Chorus/Choragos)
Iocaste: Why think of him? / Forget this herdsman. Forget it all. / This talk
is a waste of time (1411, 137-139). When Iocasta sees the truth long before
Oedipus does, she attempts to mend the situation by telling Oedipus to stop
pursuing his past. Unlike Oedipus, she is satisfied with leaving what is
unknown untouched. Iocaste acts as a voice of reason for Oedipus, as she
does not have the imaginary shield of immunity that Oedipus does; that is,
Oedipus is so arrogant that he thinks nothing bad can come from knowing
the truth while Iocaste does not hesitate to attempt to save herself before it
is too late. Despite the fact that knowing the truth might save the city from
the plague, she persistently avoids it, making her a selfish character. This
idea of selfishness and a voice of reason represents the theme that one
cannot avoid something that is inevitable. Iocaste tried to avoid the
inevitable when she was given Oedipuss prophecy and her decision to avoid
it was ironically the reason it realized. Furthermore, her cowardly suicide not
only shows the punishment for her sin, but the theme that suicide is ignoble
since she fled into the darkness of death rather than be exposed to the light
of her punishment. Since Iocaste possess few character traits and does not
attain any new ones throughout the story, she is a flat and static together.
Also, even though she is the wife of the protagonist, Oedipus, she
demonstrates antagonism by being the one to expel Oedipus to the
mountains as a child and being the one to stop Oedipus from his main goal:
discovering the truth.
Creon: How could I desire a scepter more / Than what is now mine
untroubled influence? / Besides, no sober man is reasonable / I hate
anarchy / and never would deal with any man who likes it (1399, 76-77 &
84-86). Sophocles uses Creon to reveal the idea of true leadership to the
people of Greece. At this stage of the play, Creon enjoys his freedom of
power as the third in command more than a superficial Oedipuss scepter.
Creon derives his power from his skills as a statesman while Oedipus derives
his power from just his title of king and his noble deed of killing the Sphinx.
Sophocles uses Creons intelligence and professionalism to provide a
contrast to Oedipuss paranoid, arrogant personality in order to demonstrate
the theme that a true leader in a democracy is one who is clear-minded (or
sighted), calm, rational, and intelligent.
Teiresias: How dreadful knowledge of the truth can be / When theres no
help in truth! (1392, 100-101). Teiresias is one of the many characters in the
play who warn Oedipus of the dangers of his search for the truth; moreover,
he is the sight of the play. Teiresias sees past the blindness of Oedipus and
even society, who, as represented by the chorus, readily neglects any notion
of wrongdoing in their elected leader. Teiresias desperately wants to save
Oedipus from his doom, but when Oedipus resorts to belittling him like a
child, Teiresias gives up and unleashes the power of knowledge on him.
Although Teiresias may be blind, old, and crooked, he still is, ironically, the
most knowledgeable person in this place, indicating that, in a democracy,

Alexander Cusianovic
AP Lit. Per. 2
10/20/2015

everyone even the old and the poorshould have a say in the matters of
politics.
Chorus/Choragos: Did he look like a man in his right mind?/ I do not
know. / I can not judge the behavior of great men (1397, 18-19).. Choragos
is the leader of the chorus; therefore, his actions and statements reflect the
chorus as a whole. Also, it is important to note that the chorus is a
representation of the perspective of the people of Thebes, so Sophocles uses
the Chorus to tell the audience how to act and how not to ask. When
questioned about the rationality of king Oedipus, Choragos states that he
cannot judge Oedipus because of his great position as king. Choragoss
inability to address the irrationality of Oedipus solely because of his title as
king reflects the entire Choruss (and the people of Thebes) attitude.
Because the citizens of Thebes look so highly upon leaders such as Oedipus,
the very idea of a leader being corrupt and blind escapes the people. Not
only is Oedipus Red about the tragedy of Oedipus, but also a play about the
ignorance of the people of Thebes. Blindly, they follow a leader who is just as
blind as they are. Sophocles aims to reveal that while anarchy in a
democracy is detestable, a society must always be willing to judge the
integrity of its leaders or else it is not a true democracy.