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How does Kreon act as a foil to Oedipus in Sophocles' Oedipus the King?

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Introduction

WORKS IN TRANSLATION How Kreon acts as a foil to Oedipus in Sophocles ?Oedipus the King?? In ?Oedipus The King? by Sophocles it has been well established over time that the protagonist, Oedipus is a fairly complicated character. His actions throughout the play show him as a man with great strength and knowledge, whilst also consuming paranoia and pride, which is ultimately his hamartia. Oedipus? complex character is accentuated by highlighting his flaws. How did the author do this? He created a foil in the play in order to not only highlight Oedipus? flaws, but also to vary the personality of his character in the eyes of the audience and readers throughout the course of the play. There are multiple differences between Oedipus and Kreon, but do their characters really contrast with each other and complicate the plot? The conflicting personalities of the two disclose the plot and reveal the past and background of Oedipus. It is immediately made clear that Oedipus is impatient and proud of his achievements in wit and knowledge. In contrast, Kreon is much more modest, focused and calm. There are several incidents throughout the course of the play where this is highlighted by Sophocles. In the first scene of the play itself, their differences are easily noticed. When Kreon returns from Delphi, he replies to Oedipus? questions diplomatically, knowing fully well the boundaries established, in order to reveal information in front of the citizens of Thebes. ...read more.

Middle

In this argument between Oedipus and Kreon, Kreon shows great respect in his language towards Oedipus and also when Tiresias is mentioned. He is confident because he knows that he is not in the wrong and is not ready to apologize for the actions he didn?t take. Kreon is shown to be a very clever man, his answers are not only well thought out but the dignity with which he portrays himself is such that Oedipus could never obtain. This is made clear when Kreon states ?I don?t know. And when I don?t know, I don?t speak? (Sophocles, 49). This quotation shows that he holds his moral dignity to utmost regard. He is shown to think and speak extremely rationally in retaliation to Oedipus? accusations. This is made specifically clear when he delivers a speech to Oedipus infront of the citizens of Thebes. In his speech he makes a clear and ?sane? argument about how he has ?no hunger? for the power of a king and how it isn?t ?royal power? he wants but ?It?s advantages? (Sophocles, 49 and 50). His words have the ability to attract the audience and readers through his modest argument claiming that he had all the advantages of the king without the stress and worries of one because he was a man who ?knows his moral limits and accepts them? (Sophocles, 50) In contrast to Kreon, Oedipus? brashness, at times, would seriously frighten the audiences and make them pity him. ...read more.

Conclusion

His restlessness in order to convict Kreon of crimes he did not commit shows that Oedipus has trouble facing the cold and hard truth, along with several other incidences throughout the play. Oedipus? lack of faith in the gods, in contrast to Kreon?s undying faith, shows that Kreon was more reasonable of the two. This was an era in which gods were reverred. Kreon believed and respected the wishes of the gods and believed the prophecies made by Tiresias whereas Oedipus ridiculed them. Despite the complication of Oedipus? character, it is still questionable if he would still be as complicated if it weren?t for Kreon. Through this play, it is very often noted that if Sophocles hadn?t used Kreon as a foil, the actions that take place with Oedipus such as the truth about his birth parents being revealed would seem rather bland as his emotions wouldn?t be as effective as they are because of Kreons lack of the same. In addition, if it weren?t for Kreon, the plot would never have moved forward. Sophocles created Kreon, specifically as a foil to contrast the differences of two rulers and what these rulers? decisions could do to the society they governed. He complicated the plot by using Oedipus as the ?perfect? ruler in the start only to bring him down later to set contrast. That being said, this play would not have had the effect it does if it weren?t for the complication of the plot that was added along with the complication of character through the use of Kreon. Word Count: 1,467 ________________ ...read more.

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