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Mythology in Oedipus Rex

Mythology in Oedipus Rex

In “The Oedipus Legend” Bernard M. W. Knox talks of the advantages accruing to Sophocles as a user of myths in his dramas:

The myths he used gave to his plays, without any effort on his part, some of those larger dimensions of authority which the modern dramatist must create out of nothing if his play is to be more than a passing entertainment. The myths had the authority of history, for myth is in one of its aspects the only history of an age that kept no records. . . . the myths served as typical patterns of the conduct of man and the manifestation of the gods (85).

This essay seeks to explore the life of the flawed mythological person, Oedipus, as protagonist of Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex.

E. T. Owen in “Drama in Sophocles’ Oedipus Tyrannus” comments on the mythological beginnings of Oedipus Rex:

Professor Goodell says: “Given an old myth to be dramatized, Sophocles’ primary question was, ‘Just what sort of people were they, must they have been, who naturally did and suffered what the tales say they did and suffered?” That was his method of analysis (38).

In his essay “Sophoclean Tragedy” Friedrich Nietzsche searches out the mythology in this drama, and finds that the story originates in Persia:

Oedipus who murders his father and marries his mother. Oedipus who solves the riddle of the Sphinx! What does this mysterious trinity of fateful deeds tell us? An ancient legend, occurring in purest form among the Persians, relates that a wise magician is born only as a result of incest – which, looking back to Oedipus, riddle-solver, wooer of his mother, we cannot hesitate to explicate. . . .(17).

Nietzsche’s tracing of th…

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…s, edited by Thomas Woodard. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1966.

E. T. Owen in “Drama in Sophocles’ Oedipus Tyrannus.” In Twentieth Century Interpretations of Oedipus Rex, edited by Michael J. O’Brien. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1968.

Segal, Charles. Oedipus Tyrannus: Tragic Heroism and the Limits of Knowledge. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1993.

“Sophocles” In Literature of the Western World, edited by Brian Wilkie and James Hurt. NewYork: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1984.

Sophocles. Oedipus Rex. Transl. by F. Storr. no pag. new?tag=public

Essay on the Growth of Katherina in Taming of the Shrew

The Growth of Katherina in Taming of the Shrew

Although Katherina’s final speech in The Taming of the Shrew may sound subservient on the surface, it actually reflects her growth and development into a stronger and more complex character. Without losing the forcefulness that she displayed earlier in the play, the delivery of her final speech exhibits the cleverness and deceptiveness that she has learned from Petruchio throughout the “taming” process.

At the beginning of the play, Katherina is seen as the forceful sister and Bianca as the clever one. Katherina is described by Grumio as the “fiend of hell” (I.i.88) and by Tranio as “curst and shrewd” (I.i.180). In contrast, Lucentio sees in Bianca’s silence “mild behavior and sobriety” (I.i.71). Early in the play, Katherina forcefully binds Bianca’s hands and beats her and a weeping Bianca resorts to her father to get away from Katherina (II.i.1-25). Bianca does not use force but instead relies on cleverness to get her way. As part of her cleverness, Bianca displays a gentle and subservient nature that she knows is pleasing to her father. For example, even though Baptista tells Bianca that she cannot marry until Katherina has taken a husband, he asks that she let this “not displease [her]” (I.i.77) and tells her to go inside. Bianca willingly obeys her father’s wishes, telling him: “Sir, to your pleasure humbly I subscribe;/My books and instruments shall be my company” (I.i.81-82). Conversely, when Baptista then tells Katherina to stay, she forcefully ignores his wishes and leaves after responding: “What, shall I be appointed hours, as though (belike)/I knew not what to take and what to leave? Ha!” (I.i.103-04).

Lucentio is very much like Bianca. He uses clever dis…

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…ee our lances are but straws,

Our strength as weak, our weakness past compare,

That seeming to be most which we indeed least are. (V.ii.170-75)

Katherina’s final speech may be ironical but it is exactly what society expects to hear. The tone of her speech is dignified and aristocratic and it is delivered with style and persuasion. It is by far the most noble and eloquent speech included in the play. Katherina’s ability to effectively deliver this speech exhibits her growth into a stronger character–one that now possesses both forcefulness and cleverness. Compared with Bianca and Lucentio, who remain one-sided (clever-only) characters, Katherina and Petruchio together form a formidable pair–as characters that are bothclever and forceful.

Works Cited:

Shakespeare, William. The Taming of the Shrew. Ed. David Bevington. New York: Longman, 1997.

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