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Using the opening of Oedipus Rex and the opening scene of King Lear, compare and contrast the role of the King as portrayed in both plays.

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Introduction

Using the opening of Oedipus Rex and the opening scene of King Lear, compare and contrast the role of the King as portrayed in both plays. The portrayed role of King widely varies between Shakespeare's 'King Lear' and Sophocles' 'Oedipus Rex' as each has very different approaches to the position. As the plays continue however we can also draw similarities between Oedipus and King Lear. As we begin with the play 'Oedipus Rex' we get our first impressions of the Oedipus from the way he addresses his people, we immediately see his paternal leadership coming through as he addresses his people as 'My children', this is important to the reader/audience as it helps us see that he takes responsibility and sees importance in protecting his people. He also shows that there is no distance between him and his people when he says 'I hear prayers for the sick' this is important as it shows that not only does he hear the calls for help which shows he is in close contact but he also shows he is a hands on King as he reacted to it and is looking to help. ...read more.

Middle

We also see that Lear is planning for his early retirement, this is another indication of a poor King, it was strongly believed that Kings were appointed by God and therefore could only be freed of the burden by God, a King who makes actions to give up his role is acting not only against his people but also his faith, this highlights the scale of his selfishness and terrible leadership. Language is of high relevance to the portrayal of Oedipus as a King, the praise directed at him by the Priest is very interesting to note when comparing the two Kings with regards to what is the right and wrong way to rule a kingdom. It becomes clear to the audience that Oedipus adopts a democratic ruling as the priest says 'if we choose' in context this is highly respectable as democracy is a fairly modern concept and for Greece and Oedipus to have already created such methods shows great innovation and fantastic consideration for their people. To strengthen the abnormality of giving people choice we only need to look again to the Shakespeare's King Lear, as he divides his kingdom there ...read more.

Conclusion

Another example of his lack of reason and logic shows itself as he first banishes his youngest most loved daughter Cordelia as he coldly says she is 'a stranger to my heart', this is a prime example of the weak King but also character Lear is, as both a king and father he enjoys the flattering as he demands the daughters to tell him who loves him more and when he hears an answer which he doesn't like he reacts irrationally and banishes Cordelia from his Kingdom that he was once willing to give the larger share to only if she flattered him. Similarly, a voice of reason and logic comes through Kent but he is halted by King Lear as he threatens Kent with his life by saying 'Kent, on thy life, no more' again this is an example of his poor skills when in confrontation, Kent tries to make King Lear see sense but by saying something he doesn't want to hear he is threatened with his life. There are many techniques used by both Shakespeare and Sophocles which both display examples of ruling, from the democratic Oedipus to the irrational leadership of King Lear. ?? ?? ?? ?? Joe King ...read more.

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