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

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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. He keeps the answers short “His words are hopeful” “All we need is luck” (Sophocles. 27), along with his request to speak with Oedipus “privately” (Sophocles, 27) which shows Kreon as a moderate and level headed person. Oedipus is shown quite the opposite, ruling with his emotions as he states“I grieve for them, for their sorrow and loss far more than I grieve for myself” (Sophocles, 27) This portrays Oedipus, in two lights, one where he is shown as an actual leader who believes that the citizens of his kingdom should be aware of the reasons of the trouble that they are being faced with and cares for his citizens sharing their “sorrow” (Sophocles, 27). Whereas, the other interpretation of his actions would be that he is a ruler who is unfit to sit on the throne of Thebes, he is too trusting of all his people and doesn’t know how to differentiate between the boundaries of privacy of state and his emotions that can ovewhelm him while he ruled the city of Thebes.

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Oedipus’ urgency is clearly highlighted in the scene where he jumps to conclusions because of his anger. In the scene after his quarrel with Tiresias, Oedipus accuses Kreon of treason and treachary when he asks Tiresias “Are these your own lies, prophet- or Kreons?” (Sophocles, 41) Kreons reactions to Oedipus’ accusations are extremely important because it contrasts the thought processes of the two. Whilst Oedipus acts without thinking, is rash, rude and stubborn in his opinions of Kreon, calling him a “murderer” (Sophocles, 47)in a fit of rage, “You’re the bandit, you’re the killer.” (Sophocles, 47), Kreons answers are well thought ...

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