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Rooted as it is in the fabric of social life, the play cannot avoid making some criticism, even if only obliquely. Have you found that the plays you have read vary from each other in the degree to which they present criticism of society?

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Introduction

Examination Essay Writing 'Rooted as it is in the fabric of social life, the play cannot avoid making some criticism, even if only obliquely.' Have you found that the plays you have read vary from each other in the degree to which they present criticism of society? Consider the concerns of two or three authors in your answer. Anouilh's "Antigone" and Aristotle's "King Oedipus" both present varying degrees of social criticism. In 'Antigone', the role of the guards project the moral debasement of the society, which reflects the context in which the play was written. The major theme of following orders without independent judgment reflects the society at that time during the second world war and being impartial to the moral corruption and decay of their community. In 'King Oedipus', although to a lesser extent than in 'Antigone', Aristotle highlights the danger of complete dependence on an individual. Despite Oedipus Rex's apparent indestructibility, there is great human frailty in his character and indeed in every human being, and to invest too readily and eagerly in one particular individual, doctrine or personality can be dangerous. ...read more.

Middle

In 'King Oedipus', Aristotle's criticisms of society are more subtle. The play opens with numerous citizens sitting in attitudes of supplication. As the old priest explains to Oedipus Rex the horrif situation that the country is in, it is apparent that society, from the old priests to the young children, revere Oedipus Rex almost as a god, 'the first of men'. It is also evident that they have total dependence that he will 'find some deliverance'. From then on, no citizen questions the authority of the king and his assumptions. The eventual fall of Oedipus Rex, from being the 'greatest of men' to his pathetic ending, highlights the human flaw inherent in every human being despite their apparent unbreakable character. Aristotle attacks the people for obeying and following too readily. The swift replacement of Oedipus Rex as king after the slaying of the Sphinx and the complete neglect of their former king Laius, illustrates the irresponsibility and disrespect of a society and how easily society is swayed by reward. ...read more.

Conclusion

Oedipus Rex ignored the signs that would lead to his own destruction, only wishing to 'pursue [the discovery] until death'. He let his passion of the blind pursuit of the truth consume him and the ones that he trusted and loved. In addition to Oedipus's pride, he was an extremely quick-tempered king and relied solely on his own capabilities, shunning out the advice of the shepherd, Teriestas, Creon and even Jocasta. The both the endings of 'Antigone' and 'Oedipus Rex', the audience is left with a decision to make. In 'Antigone', we are to make a moral judgment of following the guards and Creon in believing that living a passionate and meaningful life as Antigone did was 'all dead: quite stiff, quite useless, quite rotten'. In 'King Oedipus', we are also to decide whether we are going to idolize ourselves and others to a point of destruction and blind submission. Both these plays criticize the particular society, however, these themes still gravitate significance in the modern society and through the themes projected, such as individual integrity, pride, pragmatism, we too are forced to see the flaws in our society and re-assess our positions and obligations to ourselves and community. ...read more.

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