study guide 2003 oedipus

study guide 2003 oedipus - Liz Fink Oedipus study guide...

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Liz Fink Oedipus study guide Plot Summary The play begins with a plague that has stricken Thebes. Seeking an oracle at Delphi, Thebes and its king, Oedipus, are told the plague will end when the murderer of the former king, Laius, is caught and expelled. Teirasias, the blind prophet of Apollo, is summoned to reveal who the murderer is. Under questioning he tries to refuse to answer Oedipus; after Oedipus accuses him of being the murderer, Teirasias reveals that Oedipus is in fact the murderer. Oedipus flies into a rage and accuses his brother-in-law Creon of concocting a scheme through which to seize the throne. Creon protests that he is innocent of these charges, and to prove it explains that he and Jocasta (Creon’s sister, Oedipus’ wife, Laius’ window) are as happy as they could conceivably be and thus he has no motive to be king. Jocasta intercedes on Creon’s behalf, attesting to his innocence. Jocasta and Oedipus talk and compare stories of the dead king’s murder. Gradually, prophesies come together. Jocasta explains that her and Laius’ son was prophesied to kill Laius. Laius pierced the baby’s ankles and told others to leave him out to die. Oedipus tells how, when he was a young man, it was prophesied he would kill his father and lie with his mother, causing him to run away from his parents, Polybus and Merope of Corinth. While fleeing, Oedipus met and killed a rude old man and the better part of his entourage at a crossroads. A messenger comes to tell Oedipus and Jocasta that Polybus is dead, which initially brings them great joy because clearly Oedipus didn’t kill him, thus rendering the prophesy false. However, their joy is short lived because the messenger also reveals that Polybus is not Oedipus’ blood father; Oedipus was saved from being left out to die, and his ankles were pierced. Oedipus, being characteristically slow on the uptake, thinks that the messenger’s story just means he is of plebian rather than royal blood, even while Jocasta panics as she realizes the truth. A herdsman comes and reluctantly reveals that baby Oedipus was sent off to die, only to be saved by Polybus. After this revelation the audience learns that Jocasta has killed herself.
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This note was uploaded on 09/08/2011 for the course HUMA 101 taught by Professor Staff during the Spring '11 term at Columbia.

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study guide 2003 oedipus - Liz Fink Oedipus study guide...

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