Literary Analysis of Oedipus

Topics: Oedipus, Ancient Greece, Sigmund Freud Pages: 6 (2608 words) Published: April 25, 2013
Oedipus the King is an ancient Greek play has themes that can be closely related to those used today. The idea of the Oedipus complex created by Sigmund Freud stems from this play. Sophocles uses a variety of themes to help teach the people of ancient Greece, some may be intended while others may be unintended. The setting of the play affects the ending of the story, and affects the characters changes throughout the play. One that could be construed as unintended is to enjoy the journey of life and do not fear its outcome which is ultimately death. However, the main themes that can be taken away from this play is the notions of you cannot control your fate, that ignorance is bliss, and there ironies. The play of Oedipus the King is about a man who cannot escape fate, and lives out of all the prophecies. He was sent to be killed at birth, when his parents were told that one day Oedipus would kill his father and marry his mother. However, the servant who was in put in charge of killing Oedipus would not carry out the King Laius’s command to kill Oedipus, but instead sent him to Corinth to be prince. When he was older, the oracle of Delphi delivered him with the prophecy that he would kill his father and marry his mother, so he then fled from Corinth to not carry out the prophecy. At a crossroad he came felt threatened by another caravan, and his men killed them in self-defense. One of the men was Laius, and he was married to Jocasta who is now Oedipus’s wife and mother. A plague was ravishing the Theban population and to try to end the plague, he sent his brother in-law Creon to the oracle to figure out how to end the plague. Creon was told “Drive the corruption from the land, don’t harbor it any longer, past all cure, don’t nurse it in your soil-root it out” (576). Relaying the message to Oedipus, he needs to banish the man who killed Laius for the plague to end. On a quest to find out who it is, Oedipus finds out from a shepherd that he killed Laius, and his birth parents are Laius and Jocasta. For punishment he has Creon banish him from the land, and he stabs both his eyes to become blind. These events create a couple of interesting plot points that still are viewed today. According to Sigmund Freud, at early stages in development, young boys want to marry their mothers and view their fathers as competition for the mother’s affection. The young boys need to be able to relate to their father, to be able to suppress these urges to be able to put this idea into the subconscious of the brain. Even though Oedipus didn’t know his parents, and accidentally married his mother. But this play was able to help create an important part of human psychology. It also branches off to subconsciously wanting to marry our mothers or someone similar to our mothers. This is not a conscious idea of the women men are attracted to, but something that people cannot explain because it takes place in the subconscious mind. This is definitely a notion though most men would deny that their significant others are similar to their mothers because of the taboo of incest. The idea of loving someone like your mother like that is not a pleasant thought. Equivalent to the Oedipus complex is the Electra complex, which is the same thing, but daughters having these views and desires with their father and anger towards their mother (Cherry). I have found this noticeable recently because my sister’s last couple boyfriends have been similar to whom my dad is as a person. Even though Sophocles probably did not have this kind of thinking in mind when he wrote this play, this play helped lead Freud to create an important psychology complex. The most important plot point that can be taken away from Oedipus the King is that no matter what actions you take, it is impossible to change your fate. Oedipus, Laius, and Jocasta all tried to do whatever it took to try to not allow for the prophecy of, “‘You are fated to couple with your mother, you...

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