Main Methods and Literary Devices in Oedipus
“Who seeks shall find; Who sits with folded hands or sleeps is blind” by Sophocles. This quote is a remarkable and famous quote from Oedipus Rex, concisely summarizing the controversy within the play in a single sentence. Oedipus, who is blind to the truths around him for the majority of the play, is vigorously seeking the murderer of the previous king so that he can lift the curse that has brought turmoil to Thebes. Littles does Oedipus know that the previous king was actually his father, and that it was Oedipus himself who killed him, and then lay with his own mother. Here, there will be an analyzation of the characters in Oedipus Rex, Oedipus accusing Creon, Jocasta’s suicide, and Oedipus being eyeless at the end of the play, in terms of exposition, rising action, climax, and denouement. In addition to these influential literary devices that should be integrated in any story or play, there will also be an analyzation of how the method of isolation in space was used by Sophocles within Oedipus Rex.
Oedipus is a type of play that makes the reader jump right into the action within the story. In the very beginning of the play, the reader is introduced to a situation where Oedipus is concerned over his people due to a horrible curse that has befallen Thebes, and his relations to others such as Jocasta and Creon are revealed when Oedipus worriedly asks the priest what to do about the situation. The priest is referring to how Creon has gone to Apollo to see if there is indeed a curse on Thebes and if there is, how this curse can be lifted. However, Creon returns with questionable news of how Oedipus must find the killer of King Laius, the king of Thebes prior to Oedipus, to rid Thebes of the evil curse. The exposition ultimately comes to an ending as Oedipus promises to find the killer of Laius and bring an end to the tragedy within his city. All of these mentioned elements create the exposition of a story; the region where all the characters, setting, background information, and important details are revealed to the reader so that the reader can be understanding of the situation presented in the play. Therefore, the exposition bestows clues to the reader as to what is going to happen in the rest of the play. An important thing to note about the exposition and the setting is that the whole play takes place in the same setting, a method used by authors called isolation in space. The method of isolation in space creates tension within show, and accelerates the excitement of the readers.
After it’s been established in the play that Oedipus will be going on a journey to find Laius’ killer, it’s shown how he goes on to interview Teiresias. Teiresias a blind prophet who knows exactly who Laius’ killer is but is unwilling to talk due to the upset it’s going to cause Oedipus. Nonetheless, Oedipus is easily angered and is annoyed with Teiresias for his uncooperative manner and pushes him to tell the truth that he knows, which is that it was Oedipus who killed Laius. Oedipus, even more enraged at this claim, accuses Teiresias and Creon of attempting to frame him and dethrone him for their own personal gains. Like any husband, Oedipus goes to vent to his wife Jocasta, who rejects the plausibility of any prophecy due to her own experiences with prophecies. Jocasta, who used to be married to Laius, had been told a prophecy that she would born a son that would to live to kill his father and marry his mother. However, because Laius and Jocasta killed their child due to this prophecy, Jocasta assumed the prophecy couldn’t be true, and reflected this experience to Oedipus’ prophecy as well. Oedipus’ discussion with Jocasta plants more doubt in him which are demonstrated to be true as the messenger informs Oedipus that King of Corinth and Merope is not truly Oedipus’ father and mother. All of these events sum up the rising action of the play; these events serve to build up the climax of the play and give excitement and curiosity to the reader as to what’s going to take place. Also, it’s critical to note that the rising action took place immediately after the exposition in the play, showing that there is a particular organization to it.
When Jocasta finds out what Oedipus knows, it induces her to realize that her prophecy had become fulfilled a long time ago, and that she was married to her son all along. Oedipus forces the truth out from the old shepherd; however, when he returns to Jocasta, she is already dead; she has killed herself. Oedipus, in despair and in agitation, gauges his eyes out when he sees Jocasta, cursing himself for the way he has been blind to everything around him throughout his life. These exciting and intense moments in the play create the climax, and it’s the highest point of the play; the exposition merely introduced the background information and the rising action built up the events for this climax to take place.
After Oedipus gets rid of his symbolic blindness while embracing his new literal blindness, he doesn’t forget that there is yet another prophecy that still needs to be fulfilled, the prophecy pertaining the curse over Thebes. Since he now knows he is the man who killed King Laius, Oedipus exiles himself from Thebes, and leaves Thebes and his daughters under the watchful care of Creon, who he now thrones as the king. This conclusion and solution to the conflict within the story is coined denouement; after the climax, the highest point, the story’s plot decelerates to the final.
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