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OEDIPUS REX:(Oedipus the King)The first play in the Theban trilogy and the model of Greek tragedy
The audience watches a mans fate unravel before him:PROLOGUE QUESTION 1:Read the plays backstory and evaluate the role of FATE vs. FREE WILL in the play. Then explain why audiences experience CATHARSIS, an outpouring of pity or fear when Oedipus finds out his true identity.
Suppliants (beggars) gather at the gates of the cityPROLOGUE QUESTION 2:There is a plague on the city of Thebes and the people have come to beg Oedipus for help. Pre-read page 160 to find out what problems the city has and make a sign for the rally at the gates of the city.
Oedipus faces a crowd of Thebans, his people who are suffering.PROLOGUE QUESTION 3: p159What do we learn about Oedipus from his opening comments?Consider:How does he feel about his city and his people?How does he react to their begging?How does he describe himself?What do his comments foreshadow (hint) for the audience?
Prologue Recap:Setting: The gates of the royal home of OedipusBefore the scene: Many years have passed since Oedipus solved the riddle of the Sphinx and taken the throne of the previous king, Laius. He has tried to escape his prophesy that he would murder his father and marry his motherhe has fled his city of Corinth. He did not know he was adopted thoughhe kills a man on his way to Thebes (his biological father) and married the queen after saving the city from the Sphinx (his biological mother).
Prologue Recap:Oedipus comes out of his home to welcome the children of Thebes, beggars who have come asking him to help the city.Oedipus shows he cares for his people: Im ready to help, Ill do anything.Oedipus ironically (DRAMATIC IRONY) references blindnesswe know he is figuratively blind to his true identity and that he will literally blind himself later. (FORESHADOWING, BLINDNESS MOTIF)He greets the priest who has come to speak on behalf of the people of Thebes. The priest tells him that the city is a sinking ship that cannot lift her head from the depths. (SHIP MOTIF)
The priest speaks of the plague and begs help of Oedipus.PROLOGUE QUESTION 4: p160-161What does the priest reveal about the city and its people?What does the priest want from Odysseus?How does he appeal to him with flattery?How does he appeal to his pride?How does he remind the audience of the dangers of HUBRISexcessive pride or arrogance?
Oedipus feels the pain of the city of Thebes.PROLOGUE QUESTION 5: How does Oedipus respond to the priests request? Consider what this reveals about him as a leader.
What action has he already taken?Consider the role of religion and the gods in ancient tragedy.
Creon says that the killer must be banished or pay back blood with blood.PROLOGUE QUESTION 6:What is Creons message from the oracle?Consider why although Creon tries to report to Oedipus in privacy, Oedipus insists on taking the report in public. What information is now needed?Consider what grounds for hope Oedipus feels he now has.
Oedipus reassures:Ill bring it all to light myself!PROLOGUE QUESTION 7: How does Oedipus reassure him?Consider the use of DRAMATIC IRONY (the contrast between the audience knows and a character does not know.) How do lines 156-159 affect the audience? Consider:I am the lands avenger.Not to assist some distant kinsman.For my own sake I rid us of this corruption.By avenging Laius I defend myself.
The Parados: The Entry of the ChorusPROLOGUE QUESTION 8/ EPISODE 1 QUESTION 1:Here the Chorus represents the elders of Thebes.They speak in poetry/song and traditionally dance on stage. They narrate and comment on the action of the play.The Chorus will now remain on stage until the end of the play.Their song is in mirroring stanzas called strophe and antistropheThey comment on the religious messages of the play as its moral compass.Find at least one example of DICTION (word choice) related to religion and mourning (sorrow at a death or loss.)
FIRST EPISODE:EPISODE 1 QUSTION 2:What props or materials would enhance a theatrical production of Oedipus?Consider the pros and cons of using the traditional masks of Ancient Greek drama.s
Parados and Episode 1 RECAP:Parados: The Chorus enters and chants to the gods, begging to be saved from the plague. Thebes is dying (169).Episode 1:Oedipus announces to the people how he will seek out the killer of the previous king, Laius (whom he doesnt know is the guy he killed at the crossroads and is his father)I speak now as a stranger to the story (171).
Oedipus tries tocatch the killer:EPISODE 1 QUESTION 3: (p171-172)Describe Oedipus approach to catching the criminal.I order him to reveal the full truth to me.He will suffer no unbearable punishment.I will give a handsome reward.But if you keep silentBanish this mandrive him out.My curse on the murderer.Compare that with methods used to catch criminals today.
Dramatic irony (Contrast between what audience knows and what Oedipus does not)EPISODE 1 QUESTION 4: Which of Oedipus lines provide added effect to the DRAMATIC IRONY?If Id been present then, there would have been no mystery (171) Let that man drag out his life in agony, step by painful step (172)Why, our seed might have been the same,children born of the same mother might have created blood-bonds between us (173)So I will fight for him as if he were my father (173)
Tiresias: the blind prophet or seer:sees with the eyes of Apollo (174).EPISODE 1 QUESTION 5:Explain Oedipus PARADOXICAL (contradictory) statement about eyesight on p176.Consider: the MOTIF (pattern) of contrast between sight vs. blindness, light vs. dark and truth vs. ignorance throughout the play.
Contrast between Oedipus and TiresiasEPISODE 1 QUESTION 6:Why is Tiresias slow to give Oedipus the information he desires?Consider the contrast in pacing (Oedipus desire for quickness and the old prophets slowness and steady, unyielding attitude.)How does Oedipus respond to this delay?Consider the role of emotionality for Oedipus.
Conflict and irony: Tiresias vs. Oedipus EPISODE 1 QUESTIONS 7 and 8:Why does Oedipus return his attention to Creon?Consider the role he believes Creon plays in the prophecy given by Tiresias. How does Oedipus display his superiority over Tiresias? How does that contribute to the DRAMATIC IRONY in the scene? Consider what Tiresias and the audience knows that Oedipus does not know.
Tiresias responds to the accusation: So, you mock my blindness? (183) EPISODE 1 QUESTION 9 and 10:What does Tiresias predict will happen to Oedipus? Explain. (183-185)If you find Ive lied, from this day onward call the prophet blind (185).How does the Chorus view the accusations of Tiresias against Oedipus. Explain.No, not till I see these charges proved will I side with his accusersNever will I convict my king, never in my heart. (187).
Episode 1 and Stasimon 1 RECAP: Oedipus begins to seek out the killer to relieve his city of the plague.He calls upon the blind prophet Tiresias to reveal the truth.Tiresias refuses to speak, but Oedipus bullies and threatens him into revealing what he knows.Even more enraged, Oedipus now believes that the prophet is being bribed by his brother-in-law, Creon, whom he thinks wants the throne for himself.Tiresias leaves Oedipus to reflect on his cursed life. The Chorus calls upon the gods to reveal the truth, still remaining loyal (186-187).
Creon, the accusedEPISODE 2, QUESTION 2: (pages 188-189)How does Creon present his CONFLICT (man vs. man) with Oedipus to the public?How does the CHORUS (as Leader) respond to his comments? Consider the CHORUS roles here:Representative of cityLoyal subject to kingMediator
Creon fights Oedipus with logicEPISODE 2, QUESTION 3:How does Creon defend himself against the accusations of Oedipus?What RHETORICAL APPEALS does he use?Logic: If I wore the crownthered be many painful duties to perform, hardly to my taste (191).Ethics: How wrong it is to take the good for badreject a friend, a kinsman (194).Emotions: I would as soon tear out the life within us, priceless life itself (194).
Episode 2 RECAP:Creon defends his own honorOedipus has accused Creon of conspiring with the prophet Tiresias to bring him to ruin.Creon rationally and logically explains that he would never want the kings responsibility when he already has nearly as much power as second in command.Oedipus cannot accept Creons logical and ethical appeals, but rather is blinded by his own emotion.
The Queen arrivesEPISODE 2, QUESTION 4:Identify DICTION (word choices) in Jocastas first lines that sound more like a mother than a wife.Have you no sense? Poor misguided men, such shoutingwhy this public outburst? Arent you ashamed, with the land so sick, to stir up private quarrels? (196)
Oedipus gives in to the Chorus and JocastaEPISODE 2, QUESTION 5:Why does Oedipus eventually let Creon go?How do both men indicate that their CONFLICT is not resolved?He, wherever he goes, my hate goes with him (198).These men know Im right (198).
Tracing a motif: ships and pilotsEPISODE 2, QUESTION 6:Explain the ships pilot (helmsman) METAPHOR.Consider the ship references as a recurring motif.You who set our beloved landstorm-tossed, shatteredstraight on course. Now again, good helmsman, steer us through the storm (199).
Jocasta: Prophesies are phony--brush them from your mind (201).EPISODE 2, QUESTION 7:Explain Jocastas comments that no mortal has the power of prophecy. No skill in the world, nothing human can penetrate the future (201).How doe her comments produce DRAMATIC IRONY? There you see? Apollo brought neither thing to pass (201).
Oedipus: This story sounds oddly familiarEPISODE 2, QUESTION 8:Which parts of Oedipus and Jocastas stories overlap?Consider why Oedipus is growing anxiouswhat is he realizing?Consider the SETTING:PLACE: I heard you say that Laius was cut down at a place where three roads meet (202).TIME: The heralds no sooner reported Laius dead than you appeared and they hailed you king of Thebes (202).Consider what questions Oedipus asksLaius, how did he look? (202).
RECAP: This sounds oddly familiaroh no, could the prophet be right?!Jocasta finds Creon and Oedipus arguing about the prophecy. Oedipus believes Creon is conspiring to oust him fro the throne. Oedipus wont listen to reason, and instead displays arrogance HUBRIS.Jocasta breaks up the argument like a mother with two petty children arguing. She tells Oedipus not to worry about prophetsthey are phony. For example, a prophet told us that Laius would be murdered by his son, but he was killed by thieves at the place where three roads meet and our son died on a mountain with his feet bound. This is when Oedipus recognizes the story: the time, the place, the appearance of the man it all fits together!
Oedipus recalls some important detailsEPISODE 2, QUESTION 9A:What was Oedipus reason for seeking out the oracle as a young man?Consider the revelation of the man at the banquet who had drunk too much.Consider his parents response to the inquiry Oedipus makes into his birth.Still this thing kept gnawing at me (205).
The crossroads of fateEPISODE 2, QUESTION 9B:Describe Oedipus episode at the place where the three roads meet. Is it consistent with the way that he has behaved so far in the play?I strike him in anger! (206).
The horror:EPISODE 2, QUESTION 10:As Oedipus unravels the truth, how does he respond to his discovery?Why does he bring up the gods role in these events?Oh, but if there is any blood-tie between Laius and this strangerwhat man alive more miserable than I? More hated by the gods? (206).Wasnt I born for torment? Look me in the eyes! I am abominationheart and soul! I must be exiled (206).
We must find the witness!EPISODE 2, QUESTION 11:What last hope does Oedipus have of his innocence?But at least question the witness (207).You said thieveshe told you a whole band of them murdered Laius (208).
Stasimon 2: The Chorus reflects on HUBRISEPISODE 2, QUESTIONS 12 and 13: Explain the CHORUS concern about HUBRIS, excessive pride or arrogance.What threat does the CHORUS make and why?Pride breeds the tyrant (209).