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Word-association in Oedipus The King

Word-association in Oedipus The King

Let us play a little game, shall we? We have all played this at one point in our lives; it’s the word-association game. Think red- you may think apple. Now think green- you may once again think apple. Wait a minute, how can that be? How can two words that are unrelated have the same picture in the mind of an individual? This is the basic idea of perception. Now let us apply this basic concept to the text of Oedipus Tyrannus. The main character, Oedipus, has lived his entire life with basic preconceived notion of his own existence. Sophocles manipulates the audience’s perception of Oedipus through oral dramatic presentation.

“Lacan insists that dialogue is the place where a certain subject comes into being, or perhaps more properly, where the subject comes into being in a certain kind of way” (Lee 38)

Jacques Lacan deals with the perception of individuals as well. However Lacan’s perceptions are those dealt with in the mind of his subjects. Let us introduce Oedipus, as the subject, to Lacan the psychoanalyst. Now that the two have met in our minds’ we can continue with the forum of one man’s perception, Lacan’s, of another man’s life, Oedipus’s.

Lacan has two complex theories. The first is the mirror theory. This theory deals with the internal world of the subject, and the phases of the conscious as well as the unconscious mind. The second is the inability to communicate one’s desires adequately through the usage of oral communication- language. In both of these simplified concepts we will delve into the mind, and the actions of Oedipus the character.

Let us first discuss the mirror stage, with application to Oedipus the man. Within the mirror stage there are five phases. The first of which is the “fragmented body stage.” While existing in this stage man is unaware of himself. In this dark, ‘lost’ state man is unaware of his surroundings as well as himself as a being. Oedipus prior to the opening of the play lives his entire life in this “fragmented” state; he is completely unaware of himself and his actions on his society. In this state Oedipus is caught up in the pomp of his title. The role of King carries an elevated perception of an idealized life (Lee 19).

The next movement in the five phases is the “spatial identity.

Lacanian Mirror Stage: Oedipus the King

Lacanian Mirror Stage: Oedipus the King

The essence of this paper is to determine whether or not Jocasta played a more important role in the rise and fall of the title character. The paper will examine the play Oedipus Tyrannus through the eyes of the French theorist Jacques Lacan. Specifically the paper will focus on the mirror stage of Lacan’s theories.

As to the criteria that the paper will use, there are some “truths” that need to be established about the Lacanian division of thinking. In Lacan’s way of thought, we all have repressed desires, and these desires can never be fulfilled. In language, there are similar”eternal desires” that cannot be satiated. Lacan carries this further in identifying the patriarchal society with which we live in as being founded on men’s words. Therefore, women have no voice in this world and cannot be satisfied in their life times.

For one to better understand Jocasta’s character, one must have a knowledge of Lacanian theory, on which it is based. Lacan’s mirror stage, originally espoused by Freud, and its relationship to the conscious and un- consciousness. Freud believed that when a baby looked at an image of him/herself in a mirror, they would at a certain point in their development “realize” that the reflection was him/herself they were seeing. It is at this moment in a child’s life that the “ego” is formed, or the formation of a “self-awareness”. This ego is present in all people; it serves as a reminder of who we are and where we came from.

However, Freud reasoned that to be a fully developed human, we must move on from the simple realization that we are ourselves. We must know or come to know that we aren’t the only ones in the mirror. The “child,” our selves and our egos, must also realize that our “mother” is there in the reflection with us. In doing so we begin to understand that we are not the only ones in the image, and therefore, not the center of being. Moreover, we “turn” to our mothers and look at them, breaking the egotistic stare. It is the ability to break the primary concern of viewing ourselves that allows us to move into society. We must be able to break that self concerned stare and focus it on our “Mothers” or society as it were. Thus constitutes the mirror stage of Freud’s theory.

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