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Jocasta as the Victim of Oedipus the King

Jocasta as the Victim of Oedipus the King

The play Oedipus the King by Sophocles has often been described as the story of a “tragic hero.” This story is indeed tragic; however, Oedipus is not the only character stricken by tragedy. Equally stricken may be the character of Jocasta. She, as well as Oedipus, suffers many tragedies throughout the story. Shifting the story to a different perspective quite possibly may increase how we view it. The point is not to denounce Oedipus’ role as a tragic hero, but to denounce his role as the only tragic character.

First, defining the term “tragic hero” would be beneficial in determining Jocasta’s status. Tragedy is “a drama representing an important event generally having a fatal issue; a fatal and mournful event; a murderous or bloody deed” (“Tragedy”). The definition of hero is “the person who has the principle share in some exploit” (“Hero”). Stanley Garden’s internet page Tragic Hero defines tragic hero as the following: “In a tragic play, the tragic hero usually does some fearful deed which ultimately destroys him. The main character of a tragic play does a good deed which in turn makes him a hero. The hero reaches his prime and in the end a fearful deed which he had committed earlier, ultimately destroys this man once called hero.” Using these definitions we will see if we can prove Jocasta to be a tragic hero.

Oedipus’ mother and wife, Jocasta, went through her share of trials. When she was wife to Oedipus’ father, King Laius, Jocasta conceived a baby boy whom she was forced to give up to death. After receiving a prophecy that his son would kill him and take his throne, King Laius convinces Jocasta that their son is a great threat. He then orders that the baby boy be…

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… her fatal decision.

It seems that Jocasta suffers many tragedies, possibly more than Oedipus himself. Using our definition of a tragic hero, Jocasta’s fearful deed is that of giving up her son to death. That turns out to be her downfall and destroys her. However, she does not fit the criteria as a tragic hero. Jocasta did not do a good deed turning her into a hero. She goes through many tragedies, but this only categorizes her as a victim of tragedy. While Oedipus is still the “tragic hero,” he is no longer the main victim in the play.

Works Cited

“Tragedy.” New Webster’s Dictionary. 1998 ed. Florida: Paradise Press, Inc. 1998.

“Tragic Hero”. Ed. Stanley Garden. 7 February 2001 .

“Hero.” New Webster’s Dictionary. 1998 ed. Florida: Paradise Press, 1998.

Oedipus the King – Exploited or Exploiter?

Oedipus the King – Exploited or Exploiter?

Great thinkers throughout history have contrived intricate theories of social order. By applying these particular ideologies to literature, we as readers are able to see a great work through the eyes of one or many of history’s most celebrated philosophers. Sophocles’ Oedipus the King has been open to many interpretations. With its intricate plot, archetypical tragic character, and lofty social issues, Oedipus the King provides for virtually any and all interpretations. One such literary theory is Marxism.

Marxism, the sociological system of belief created and presented by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, has had profound influence on western politics and world sociologic theory since its introduction in the mid 19th Century. During this time, the Age of Industrialization was in full swing, and many workers were exploited and forced to work unreasonable hours. Marx noticed that in this society the rich upper echelon took advantage of huge lower class.

In response to these observations, Marx developed a set of ideals in which one faction of people could not dominate another. The cornerstone of this sociological and economic theory is the strict belief that “an upper class arises to dominate a working class of unconscious individuals” (Cole 76). In order to counteract this negative trend, a society must rid itself of the caste-like class system that divides its peoples into different economic and social levels.

Marxists argue that in a democratic or monarchical society, two major classes come into being: the Bourgeoisie, or exploiters, and the Proletariat, or exploited. Marx and Engels believed that the upper class (Bourgeoisie) controlled the financial situation w…

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…ial system. However, in recent history, this political theory has all but been totally refuted by modern idea and new edicts. In today’s society, classes still remain, but in virtually all industrialized countries the middle class overwhelmingly dominates all other factions. Much of this sociological triumph can be accredited to the insight of Karl Marx and his colleagues who presented the idea that the common man should be the ultimate focus of a society.

Works Cited and Consulted

Cole, G.D.H. The Meaning of Marxism. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 1964.

Frow, John. Marxism and Literary History. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard U P, 1986.

Kumar, Amitava. Class Issues, Pedagogy, Cultural Studies, and the Public Sphere. NewYork: New York U P, 1997.

Peck, John, and Martin Coyle. Literary Terms and Criticism. Hong Kong: Macmillan , 1984.

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