Response to Oedipus Rex

Although I had never read Sophocles’ original work for myself, I was already quite familiar with the story of the titular Oedipus, King of Thebes, when I was assigned to read it for English Literature class. Nevertheless, the play still managed to surprise me, particularly in its structure and characters.

The play begins well into Oedipus’ personal narrative. at this point, he has long since defeated the Sphinx by solving its famous riddle, married Queen Jocasta, become King of Thebes, and had several children. This was the first thing that struck me as surprising, as I expected the play to retell the whole story, starting with a baby Oedipus being given to a shepherd on the slopes of a mountain. Instead, the play is structured similarly to a classic whodunnit as Oedipus and Jocasta try to expose the murderer of King Laius.

I found Oedipus’ characterization to be largely consistent. He was represented as a brave and sympathetic man, albeit slightly dull and prone to fits of temper. The same can be said for the other characters prominently featured in the play, them being Jocasta, Creon, and Tiresias.

The role of the Chorus also came as a surprise. Originally, I had assumed that they served as a narrator of sorts explaining the events of the play but never acknowledged by the characters themselves. This was not the case, as they were instead written as a representation as the common people of Thebes, frequently interacting with the named characters.

I was particularly struck by the ending. Once the final twist was revealed, the main character emotionally falls to pieces, and the dialogue is so well written that every word Oedipus spoke felt like a punch in the gut. The conclusion of Oedipus Rex was extremely powerful, and provoked much more of an emotional response from me than I expected of an ancient Greek play.

One thought on “Response to Oedipus Rex”

  1. Hi Ben! I liked how you sectioned your blog post, and how each paragraph carried one idea about the play. Don’t forget to add evidence to prove your points. Great job!

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