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Sophocles Oedipus Rex

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Introduction

Sophocles - Oedipus Rex How would you describe the tone of Chorus' first speech and what linguistic techniques does the writer use to encourage this tone? Uses the following edition and translation of Oedipus Rex: Sophocles (Robert Fagles translation). "Oedipus the King" in The Three Theban Plays: Antigone, Oedipus the King, Oedipus at Colonus. New York, Penguin Books, 1984 Awarded: Grade 6 Chorus' speech can be divided into different parts where the tones are very different. The first twenty- two lines of the monologue (lines 168-189) is a welcome part for the gods, full of devotion and respect, praising the gods for all their greatness. Since Chorus does not yet know the message Creon brings back from Delphi, the speech starts with a tone of anticipation, questioning what the gods want them to do in order to get rid of the plague. In the anticipation, there is also terror of what the sentence of the god might be - "racked with terror - terror shakes my heart." The two expressions "racked with terror" and "terror shakes my heart" basically mean the same thing, but by repeating these two synonymous expressions, the author is emphasising Chorus' fear and anticipation of the gods' sentence and "I worship you in dread" clearly express Chorus' anxiety. ...read more.

Middle

In fact, the word no is repeated six times in these thirteen lines. There is a definite tone of hopelessness in this sections: "miseries numberless...no end - too much to bear, we are all dying." The subject hear is changed from "I" to "we", emphasising the fact that this is not just one person dying, not just Thebes dying, but Thebes and all its people as well. A metaphor comparing Thebes to a "great army" is used next in line 194, as if Thebes was an army that lacked a commander to make a cutting decision to stop the plague (thus "not sword of thought to save us"). "No and the fruits...will not ripen/no and the women cannot scream their pangs to birth..." This "no" is repeated to emphasise the hopelessness of the situation in Thebes at the moment. In regards to the life that Thebes was losing, the author wrote: "you can watch then go...streaking on to the shores of Evening Death." Here, what would be the last word of this sentence, "Death," instead of being on the same line as "shores of Evening," is put into the next line to be an one-word-line on its own, and this end of the sentence then become the beginning to the next sentence: "Death/so many deaths." ...read more.

Conclusion

"O rout [the god of death] from our borders!" "...blast him...to all where the Thracian surf comes crashing." This part also calls on the individual gods and asks them to use their respective powers to "burn that god of death that all gods hate!" It calls on Zeus, the "lord of the storm cloud" to "twirl the lightning...thunder Death to nothing!" The use of powerful words such as "twirl" and "thunder" lays emphasis on the fiery tone of this part of the speech. Chorus begs Apollo to "whip [his] longbow...showering arrows on our enemies...champion strong before us rushing on!" Again, the use of intense words such as "whip," "showering," "champion strong," and "rushing" puts energy to the tone of the speech. This is tone is then repeated when Chorus calls on Artemis with her "torches flaring...ride Death down in pain!" and with Dionysus with his "raving women's cries come with torches blazing, eyes ablaze with glory!" The tones of Chorus' speech may vary in parts, but the overall theme of it is to call on the gods with their powers to come down and stop the plague that is turning Thebes into a "city of death." Shaken with terror for this plague, in Chorus' speech, there is a tone of desperation in present in all parts of the speech. ...read more.

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