41-43: Kaylee Sager

SUMMARY

In these pages Jocasta, the wife of Oedpius continues her conversation with him about why he is worried about his perceived plot of Creon, his brother-in law, to overthrow him. Oedipus becomes infuriated when Creon blames him for the death of Lauis through the prophet. In order to calm down her husband, Jocasta tells Oedipus a story about a prophesy that was given to her about her son when he was a baby. The son's feet were pierced and he was given away to die. The parents were afraid of the oracle that their son would kill the dad and sleep with his mother. Jocasta explains to Oedpius how she was able to overcome the vision of the Gods, and encourages him that whatever oracle he received in the past, he can overcome it, too.

But Oedpius is not convinced because of Jocasta's remark of the location of the murder of Lauis in a crossroad street. Oedipus is filled with guilt and anger from the thought that he might have killed the previous king. He asks her what the King looked like and becomes even more distressed when he is not sure that it was bandits that murdered Lauis. He is frightened, which disturbs his wife, regardless of her attempt to convince him it was bandits and not a single person who killed Lauis. Jocasta is still not aware or sure that Oedipus is the one who killed Lauis, either.


ANALYSIS

The passage uses irony and suspense to enhance the plot. Oedipus’s accusation of Creon plotting against him increases the conflict through suspense. Jocasta, who is the middle ground between Oedipus, as his wife, and Creon, as his sister, is suggested as a caring woman who tries to prevent violent affronts between the two. When she says:
“do not concern yourself about this matter;
Listen to me and learn that human beings
Have no part in the craft of prophecy” (708-710)
we find textual support for the speaker’s attitude towards people who do not respect the Gods. Ironically, Jocasta’s blatant disregard of respect towards Apollo and his oracle foreshadows how they try and fail to intervene with the prophesy and the Fates. By leaving Oedipus to die, Jocasta interferes with Apollo’s plan. The oracle’s prophecy does take place – a vital element which furthers the theme that human’s interference in Fate will only end in misery.

More irony is present in her next line where Jocasta states:
“so clear in this case were the oracles,
So clear and so false” (722-23)
Not only is the oracle juxtaposed as something powerful and weak in its justification, but she ironically knows more about the power of the oracle than she lets on. Jocasta is still ignorant to the irony in the description of the oracle as ‘clear.’ This description supports the theme on how no matter what the gods’ will have to be done.

Oedipus’ personification of his soul in line seven hundred twenty six (726): “a wandering of the soul—I could run mad” characterizes him as a passionate man. Later on he is characterized, along with Jocasta, as ignorant. Oedipus and Jocasta are juxtaposed as innocent and guilty in their lack of knowledge about the murder of Laius. This is shown through Oedipus’s constant questioning of the place of the murder and a physical description of Laius. By giving a vague answer to her husband’s questions, Jocasta is portrayed as both ignorant and guilty. She uses irony when she calls Laius “in his form not unlike [Oedipus],” (743) furthering the audience’s suspense with the dramatic irony as to when Jocasta will make the connection, realizing that Oedipus is the son she abandoned.

Eyes are a motif that is readily shown in this excerpt. Jocasta states: “all men’s eyes looked to you, [Oedipus]” (736) suggesting that eyes are a symbol of a pursuit of truth, where one looks for guidance. It goes along with the idiom of ‘blindly following someone’ which is significant in its parallelism to the theme. The eyes of the towns-people and the “old seer [who] had eyes” (747) represent how ‘seeing is believing’ in society. The gifts of sight are how many of the characters pursue both their lives and the murder of Laius. They consider their mortal, literal sight to be powerful above all things. But the metaphorical all seeing eyes of the seer “show…more... [than] if you can tell me one more thing” (747), as the gift of second sight is a divine blessing from the Gods. Those who use this gift to tell what will be and what has been, like Tiresias does, are in contact with the gods and carry out the God’s plan, rather than selfish, mortal acts.