Oedipus the King by Sophocles

I realize I haven’t posted in an incredibly long time (or maybe it just feels that way to me!), so I decided to share something I’ve been working on in two classes: Oedipus analysis. In one on of my basic intro classes (critical writing and reading), we read and discussed Oedipus the King. Balancing nicely with that was the discussion of all three Theban plays, Antigone, Oedipus the King, and Oedipus at Colonus in a humanities course.

While I found each play interesting enough (incest and whatnot aside), what I found truly fascinating was the new angle my humanities class spun on Oedipus’ guilt — or lack thereof. For my final paper in that course, I decided to look at textual evidence in the plays to support Oedipus’ innocence. I’m still working on the paper, but I felt I could at least share my introductory paragraph (which is subject to change up until the minute of submission; I usually write the intro last):

“Textual evidence in the plays Oedipus the King and Oedipus at Colonus show that Oedipus is not truly guilty of the claimed prophecy that he would kill his father and marry his mother. Due to the fact that the prophecies that claimed this was true were given by either false prophets or gods (who do not and cannot foresee FATE), that Laius and Jocasta are not Oedipus’ true Athenian parents, and that stories told by witnesses — Oedipus’ delivery to Polybus and Merope and Laius’s murder scene — are contradictory and therefore untrustworthy, Oedipus is clearly innocent of the crimes charged to him.”

Though for argument’s sake, I will probably continue to agree with people that Oedipus is actually guilty (just because it’s so much easier than having to act elitist and show them contradictory evidence), my humanities course has opened a doorway to a new interpretation of a text that I have read numerous times. This got me thinking about rereading books — after new information or opinions come out, do you ever question character’s motives? Or especially, when you find out a character you thought was truly good or bad turns out to be something completely different, do you ever go through a series (or novel, I suppose) and try to catch hints?

This may also have been brought about by watching Harry Potter 7.1 and 7.2 again; I’ll  be honest. It’s just an interesting thought to have about texts you THINK you know. I had reread the Harry Potter series multiple times before preordering and reading the seventh book, but after reading it, it shed an incredibly new light on a character everyone had previously loved to hate. It just fascinates me how something in the end of a book can make you rethink the entire thing. Anyway, I suppose I should stop procrastinating by writing this post and get back to actually finishing the paper!


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