Oedipus Rex by Sophocles

Section 5 Analysis (lines 998-1214)

In this section, Jocasta fully rejects the prophecies of the gods, and in doing so also reaches the height of her anguish (she kills herself offstage.) Sophocles continues to employ irony in lines like the one spoken by the messenger about the death of Polybus: "Wonderful news—for the house, my lady, for your husband too" (ll.1023-1024). The audience knows that the news will actually be the undoing of Oedipus and all his line.

Oedipus too spurns the prophecies when he says, "They're nothing, worthless" (l. 1064). Certainly this is prideful, and one might argue that is why Oedipus is so punished by the gods, but at this point, his terrible destiny is already well under way. Even if he were humble at this moment, he would have still killed his father, wed his mother, and raised a line of incestuous children. Oedipus continues to seek the truth, which will haunt him, but wanting to know the truth can hardly be judged a mistake or flaw. Sophocles continues to use eye and seeing imagery.

This section underscores the fact that Oedipus, for whatever reason, was truly doomed from the start. Every choice he made to avoid his fate drove him deeper into it. Sophocles is demonstrating that man cannot change his destiny, only what he knows about it.

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