Oedipus the King pages 32-34

by Diggory Rycroft

Summary


Pages 32-34 feature an argument between Creon and Oedipus regarding Oedipus’ accusation that Creon and Teiresias, the blind prophet, are scheming to overthrow him. The section follows Oedipus’ argument with Teiresias, who reveals that Oedipus is in fact responsible for the curse upon Thebes, as he is the murderer of Laius. The previous scene concludes with Oedipus suspecting a conspiracy against him, which leads to his confrontation with Creon.

The scene begins with Creon addressing the Thebans, stating that he is aware of Oedipus’ accusation and wishes to clear his name. The chorus then attempts to prevent a conflict between the two by attributing Oedipus’ words to a possible “gust of anger”. Creon expresses a rational willingness to clear up what he feels is a misunderstanding. Oedipus then arrives, and, in lines 531-543, confronts Creon with the arrogant attitude of a detective making an arrest. Oedipus denounces Creon’s alleged plan, and chides, “only with the people at your back or money can [you succeed] in the capture of a crown.”

Creon proceeds to defend himself by warning Oedipus of the dangers of jumping to conclusions without sufficient evidence, while Oedipus continues to warn Creon of the consequences for his treason. Creon then attempts to reason with Oedipus by encouraging him to look at the facts before him. The section ends when Oedipus appears to calm down, and begins to question Creon about Teiresias’ credibility, and the circumstances surrounding Laius’ death, hoping to discover the truth.

Analysis


This section of the play is primarily devoted to making Oedipus' eventual discovery that he is Laius' murderer all the more dramatic and ironic. Oedipus' accusations against Creon are highly inflammatory, attacking his "cowardice...[and] stupidity" (536). Oedipus treats his most loyal ally like a criminal, when Oedipus himself is in fact the guilty party. This scenario of a guilty man accusing an innocent friend is extremely ironic, and enhances the tragic element of Oedipus' eventual revelation by adding to the crimes that Oedipus must pay penance for.

Additionally, the section emphasizes the contrast between Oedipus and Creon: whereas Oedipus asks, "Have you so much brazen-faced daring that you venture in my house although you are proved... [a] murderer?" (533), Creon invites an injured Oedipus into the house, even after discovering that he is in fact the murderer of Laius. This contrast demonstrates the personality differences between the two: Creon is supposed to come off as loyal and rational, and Oedipus as proud and stubborn, utilizing what Creon calls "obstinacy without wisdom" (550).