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Oedipus - Choose at least 2 supporting characters in the play and discuss how and to what effect they contribute to the play

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Introduction

Choose at least 2 supporting characters in the play and discuss how and to what effect they contribute to the play Man is the measure of all things. Exploring this Greek philosophy within ?Oedipus the King?, Sophocles uses the characters of Jocasta and Tiresias to represent free will and fatalism respectively, to allow his audience to consider whether the play?s tragic outcome is a result of destiny, the actions of the characters themselves or an amalgamation of the two. This conflict is depicted through the dialogue of both Tiresias and Jocasta with Oedipus and their attitudes towards the prophecy, and further to this how the chorus, representative of the audience?s viewpoint, regards both characters throughout the play. As a prophet and a king, Tiresias and Oedipus would have been amongst the most highly regarded noblemen in Greek society. However by the end of their dialogue in the play, Tiresias is depicted as more powerful than the King due to his staunch belief in the predetermined prophecy and Oedipus? rejection of it. It is clear that Tiresias commands the same respect as a God, with Oedipus himself stating that ?Lord Tiresias sees with the eyes of Lord Apollo? on line 323, honouring them both equally with the title ?Lord?. ...read more.

Middle

Furthermore, her use of the adjective ?impossible? on line 938 as the sole word in a sentence depicts syntax that further emphasises her certainty in the speciousness of the prophecy. In this sense, Jocasta is also blind; by refusing to see other alternatives to her point of view such as that of fatalism, she, like Oedipus, is perceived by the audience to have a narrow-mindedness and inability to consider the stances of others thus undermining her intelligence and royal standing. Jocasta?s lack of reverence for the Gods resulting from her belief that ?not a man on earth can see a day ahead? is met by disdain from the chorus. It is clear that she doesn?t fear the Gods in the same way as the Thebans do from her profane statements such as ?for the love of god?. Sophocles included speech such as this to create the discrepancy between Jocasta?s fear of the Gods and that of the chorus. By disapproving of her attitude in choral odes such as on line 972-975 where it is expressed that ?if any man [has] no reverence for...the gods let a rough doom tear him down?. Through this the chorus is leading the audience to agree with them as joint spectators to the tragedy and also reaffirming its own belief in fatalism. ...read more.

Conclusion

By the end of the play, the chorus is dependent upon the prophecies coming true; ?never again will I go reverent to Delphi...unless these prophecies all come true?. This dependency is caused by their need for the Gods to maintain order in the heavens and on earth; their need for fatalism. In ?Oedipus the King?, Sophocles counters the philosophy of ?man is the measure of all things? and instead highlights the perils that taking this perspective can bring. Ultimately Tiresias? knowledge of the Gods and belief ?the truth with all its power? on line 405 that lives inside him and his belief in fatalism is what delivers him from a tragic fate within the play. This contrasts to the fates of Laius, Jocasta and Oedipus, all of whom believed they were above the Gods and controlled their own destinies, either by trying to thwart the prophecy originally, or through excessive arrogance, and all of whom meet tragic ends as a result of their hubris. Therefore, although suicide and self-impalement were not parts of the prophecy, they remain an important beacon in the play, interpreted by the chorus as the outcome of those who do not respect and fear the Gods and their roles as, on line 562, ?the great masters of...human life?. Choose at least 2 supporting characters in the play and discuss Ciara Lally how and to what effect they contribute to the play 04.03.2010 ...read more.

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