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Sophocles. Oedipus the King. Michael W.Cox. Analysis of the Play Essay

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Updated: Jan 23rd, 2022

‘Oedipus the King’ A Work of Greek Literature

Greek literature has always been of interest to writers and scholars. This is because they often used very intricate writing styles that are as intriguing as they were decades ago. This subject attracts a lot of research and criticism of the scholarly world. Michael W. Cox and S. Nassar are some of the scholars who seek to interpret Greek methodology in the way stories are narrated and written. One of the most outstanding and intriguing works is ‘Oedipus the King’. It is a story that includes love and tragedy in the same work just as with other classical Greek plays and literary works.

Analysis Play of Michael’s W. Cox and S. Nassar

In the article that Michael W. Cox has written, he tries to give his thoughts on his understanding of the famous play ‘Oedipus the King’. In the play, Sophocles chose to ignore the more common use of recognition and reversal, which dominated Greek plays. As Michael W. Cox notes, Sophocles included sadness and protagonist in his play. Jocasta in the play is a grieving mother who had lost a son in infancy and blames it on her husband. She lives all her life bearing all the pain that her husband was responsible for. However, the tragedy lies in her waiting; she later discovered that her son was alive and was the one who murdered her husband. She has spent years grieving for a son who was to later bring in more grief to her than she could ever imagine. Michael W. Cox argues that the writer tried to write this story differently from the typical Greek methodology.

Michael W. Cox thinks that Jocasta’s lack of grief at the death of Laius was much more than the grief for the death of her infant son. It is in his opinion that Jocasta may have been angry all along because Laius had sexual proclivities and transgressions that may have contributed to Jocasta’s lack of grief at the death of Laius.

S.Nassar, on the other hand, looks at the play from another angle and bases his argument on the point that Jocasta may have been genuinely affected by the death of her infant son. Nassar thinks that the death of a child is not an easy tragedy to deal with this death affected her whole life. The premonition was that the young boy was to eventually kill his father, this is why the husband, Laius, involved Jocasta in an attempt to kill the infant. They tied the infant’s legs tightly and left him on a hill to die. Luckily, a farmer saved the boy. It is noteworthy to note that the tragedy spans a long period. Jocasta spent all her life grieving for her son even though she was an accomplice to the crime. She could have saved her son by running away with him instead of tying his feet and leaving him to die. She gained nothing all her life after the death since she was never happy. The life she chose to save was her husband’s over her son’s though her husband kept giving her emotional pain by having affairs all over the place.

The tragedy in this play consists in the fact that Jocasta lacks self-thought since she could have made the right decision and saved herself from all the years of pain and heartache that she suffered because of her actions. She is not the victim rather is part of the tragedy for the actions she took in the early years of her relationship with her husband. The couple was very selfish and chose to follow the prophecy that said that their son would kill his father rather than act like normal parents and save their son’s life at any cost. The pain and outcome of the play are very disastrous and unimaginable yet are well predicted.

“My son/ he was three days old and his father bound his ankles/ had a henchman fling him away/on a barren trackless mountain” (790-90); this is Jocasta’s depiction of the circumstances that led to her son’s death. The whole story is a tragedy since the parents’ thoughts of what would happen to their son did not come to pass, but rather all future predictions happened as they had been predicted. The messenger says that “Jocasta wailed for Laius, dead for so long/ remembering how she bore his child so long ago/ the life that rose to kill him (1374-76). It is open to anyone reading the play to make a personal conclusion as to the degree of pain and suffering that Jocasta went through in her life. It is not clear to say whether she bore more pain for the death of her infant son or the slaying of her husband. The fact that her son ended up being her second husband may just be the biggest tragedy. However, it may well be the right way to make her pay the price for the lack of maternal instincts that she failed to show to her three-day son.

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