WLC Questions for Oedipus the King

WLC Questions for Oedipus the King

WLC Questions for Oedipus The King

  1. Whom does Oedipus address when he first appears? The people of Thebes
  1. Where does the opening scene take place? In front of the palace of Thebes
  1. What major conflict or problem does the first scene introduce?

A blight, plague in the city of Thebes and the danger it poses

  1. What new information do you learn about Oedipus in his speech in lines 66-77? He feels sorrow and sympathizes with the city; he shows he’s a man of action
  1. What great service did Oedipus provide the city when he first arrived in Thebes?

He solved the riddle of the Sphinx and saved the city.

  1. Who was king of Thebes before Oedipus? King Laius
  1. What kind of leader does Oedipus seem to be?

Confident and respected, empathic, courageous, successful

  1. What purpose does the chorus serve in this tragedy? Chorus represents the voice of the people; they react to events in the story and provide details.
  1. What happened to King Laius? He was murdered by one or more people (possibly robbers) as he was traveling at a place where several roads came together.
  1. With which god is the chorus most distressed? Ares, the God of War- line 208
  1. How does Oedipus’ decision to seek out the murderer of Laius add to his stature as a hero?He shows his tragic flaw. Since he is determined to find the murderer of the king, his decision will ultimately about his downfall.
  1. Why has Oedipus summoned Lord Teiresias? He’s a prophet who may know information about the murder because he can predict the future. Oedipus wants to find out what he knows about the murderer.
  1. What is ambiguous about the oracle’s words? His words are ambiguous; he seems to know something but refuses to share any information with Oedipus at first.
  1. What flaw in Oedipus’ character is suggested by his choosing to accuse Teiresias? His anger and temper shows. His emotions control him.
  1. Why is Oedipus angry with Teiresias? because Teiresias doesn’t want to tell him anything about the murder because it might cause trouble and pain.
  1. According to Teiresias, who is the murderer whom Oedipus seeks? Oedipus
  1. How does Oedipus react to the mention of his parents? Resentful and confused. He believes his parents are the king and queen of Corinth.
  1. How does Oedipus react to the information that Teiresias gives him? He is angered because he thinks Teiresias’ is holding back information he knows. Oedipusbecomes angry and refuses to believe what he goes on to tell him. Oedipus curses him and orders him to leave the city.
  1. Why does Creon return?He comes back to defend himself from lies/accusations being spread about him by Oedipus – that he is the murderer of Laius.
  1. What flaw in Oedipus’ character is suggested by his choosing to accuse Creon? Anger and blindness to the truth and his temper; he seems to lack some control when he hears what Creon has to say.
  1. What does Oedipus accuse Creon of doing? Plotting to overthrow him as become king and of treason
  1. How does Oedipus want to punish Creon? He wants to kill him at first. The chorus later persuades Oedipus not to kill Creon but to banish him because he has been his friend.
  1. In what ways do Jocasta’s actions parallel those of Oedipus earlier in the play? She’s assertive in her actions like Oedipus. She tries to resolve the quarrel between Oedipus and Creon. She continues to ask questions and tries to piece the puzzle together about Laius’ murder.
  1. According to Jocasta, what did the oracle say would happen to Laius? Laius would be killed by his own son.
  1. Why is Jocasta frightened? P. 494 She’s frightened by Oedipus’ behavior and his irrational state of mind as well as the accusations he’s making.
  1. What does the servant ask of Jocasta when he sees that Laius is dead and Oedipus is king? He begs her to send him to the countryside outside the city as her shepherd.
  1. What did Oedipus do to avoid fulfilling the horrors he was told awaited him? He leaves Corinth to avoid killing the king and queen of Corinth (who he believes are his real parents) and marrying the woman he thinks is his mother.

Oedipus (Part II): begins on page 503

Connection to Freud’s“Oedipal complex” theory – in all men’s/boy’s dreams, they may think about a relationship with their mother. Oedipus’ still has fear about the prophecy that he will sleep with his own mother. Line 1071 Jocasta tells him not to fear his “mother’s marriage bed” and says, ”Before this, in dreams too, as well as oracles, many a man has lain with his own mother.”

  1. To which god does Jocasta direct her prayers? Apollo
  1. What news does the Messenger bring from Corinth? That the king of Corinth Polybus, the man who has raised Oedipus as his own son, has died of illness and the city wants Oedipus to become their king. Since Oedipus has fled Corinth to avoid the prophecy that he would kill his father, he feels relieved. However, he later finds out from the Messenger that Polybus adopted him as this son.
  1. Describe the Messenger’s personality.He treats Oedipus with respect. Honest, forthright; he tries to reassure Oedipus and Jocasta with his news. He believes this information he’s bringing is good information.
  1. Where was the infant Oedipus found? In the bushes on “Cithaeron’s slopes.” He was found by a shepherd with his feet pierced and shackled together.
  1. Why does Jocasta suddenly discourage Oedipus from pursuing information about his birth? Line 1155 She figured out the truth about Oedipus and discourages him because she fears for his life.
  1. What does Oedipus hope to learn from the Herdsman?He hopes to learn if he might have been born to a mother who was a slave, thus making him a slave and not born of noble blood. He’s not concerned about possibly being of low birth; he just wants to solve the mystery of his birth. Earlier he hoped to find out what happened at the robbery when Laius was killed because the herdsman was the only survivor.
  1. How does Oedipus try to make the Herdsman talk? He threatens to cause him harm if he doesn’t talk: “If you’ll not talk to gratify me, you will talk with pain....” and later threatens to kill him if he doesn’t talk.
  1. What fear drove Jocasta to give her child to the Herdsman? her fear of the oracles’ prophecy that her child would kill his parents would come true
  1. What news about Jocasta does the Second Messenger report? He reports that Jocasta is dead.
  1. What motivates Oedipus to ask for a sword?He was angry, upset and out of control. It could have been that he was going to hurt someone,or kill Jocasta or maybe himself.
  1. What injury does Oedipus inflict upon himself? He gouges out his eyes with brooches from Jocasta’s robes. He would also exile/banish himself from Thebes.
  1. Why does Oedipus curse the man who saved him when he was an infant? Lines 1465 Oedipus says, “Had I died then / I would not be so burdensome to my friends.” If he had been killed by the man who saved him, none of the terrible things he did would have happened;he would have better off.
  1. What information does Creon want to learn from the God?Creon wants to learn from the God what he should do with Oedipus.
  1. What is Creon’s motivation for bringing Ismene and Antigone to Oedipus? He understands how much Oedipus’ daughters mean to him. Creon takes pity on him and thus allows Oed. to talk to them one more time.
  1. What plea for his daughters does Oedipus make to Creon? He asks that Creon to take care of them and not let them wander “like beggars, poor and husbandless because Oedipus understands how they will be treated because of what he has done.
  1. Why does Oedipus insist that he is better off blind and living than dead? He doesn’t want to see his parents and his wife in the next world of death (bottom of p518). He wants to be banished.Being forced to live with the truth on a daily basis is more punishment.

Critical Reading – 1. At the end of the play, do you sympathize with Oedipus or blame him? Explain. His pre-determined fate prophesied by the gods makes us take pity for him. It seems he cannot control his destiny.

P. 512 line 1298 – 1299 “Light of the sun, let me look upon you no more after today! I who first saw the light bred of a match accursed, and accursed in my living with them…….

This is Oedipus’ transition from a state of ignorance to a state of enlightenment, but in knowing the truth he is blinded by it. He doesn’t want to look on the face of reality.

Oedipus blinds himself because he does not want to see the crime he committed and the crime that was committed on him, his fate.

“Darkness! Horror of darkness unfolding, restless … - Oedipus wants to live in darkness for the rest of his life because of his terrible deeds. He banishes himself.

Read pages 463- 465 - Aristotle says Oedipus the King is a perfect play because “the end is hidden in the beginning,” so the ending is both a surprise and inevitable.

The play doesn’t solve the issue of pre-determined fate. The play presents a journey of a person going from a state of ignorance to a state of knowledge/enlightenment.

Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) Father of modern psychology

From the Interpretation of Dreams

“One of the pillars of Freud’s psychological theory was his formulation of the ‘Oedipus Complex’.

Freud says in that parents play a role in children’s psychology, especially in children with psychological disorders. And while amorous feelings toward one’s mother and “hostile attitudes” toward one’s father are magnified in psychoneurotoics, these feelings occur in the majority of children, especially males.

In this excerpt, Freud discusses how the plot of Sophocles’ play “reveals the central dynamic of the psychic life of the male.” Oedipus goes step-by-step through the stages of moving from ignorance to enlightenment. As Oedipus asks questions, he learns more about his identity; this process is like the process in psychoanalysis.The play allowed Freud to develop his “Oedipal Complex” ideas.

Freud says while this play is a tragedy of fate – a conflict between fate and one’s own will - it is the reaction to the idea of a man having relations with his mother that causes disgust (the ooye factor) that makes the play interesting.

He says that it is common for boyto dream about having sexual relations with his mother and dreams of the death of their father, but that these dreams and thoughts go away as the boy grows up because these dreams/thoughts cause feelings of disgust.

The theme of the play revolves around the conflict godly (divine) power versus human responsibility.