Free Study Guide for Oedipus the King by Sophocles|
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The Exodus presents the outcome of the tragedy and although Oedipus has fallen from his great stature as king, he remains dignified if not slightly humbled by the recent circumstances. It is an act charged with violence as well as melancholy and tenderness. A highly dramatic and passionate narration of Jocasta’s suicide and Oedipus’ blinding of himself is relayed to the audience. The emotions thus heightened are then subjected to a long kommos by the protagonist of the play. The ‘kommos’ is the final lament of the protagonist in a tragedy. It is used to stir the emotions of the audience and make them sympathize with him. It is the ultimate act of persuasion to achieve the catharsis of emotions.
The emotions that reach a peak by the passionate speech of the messenger and the Lament song of Oedipus are calmed in the last scene where Oedipus is united with his daughters. This final scene is one of reconciliation, realization and purgation. Oedipus realizes his mistakes and seeks Creon’s forgiveness. He reconciles with Creon and more importantly with his fate that he has been avoiding ever since his birth. Moreover, he atones for his sinful existence through self-infliction and self-exile. He can only be purged by intense suffering. It is through his pain that he discovers humility and reverence for the gods. Earlier in the play, Oedipus is shown to be an impetuous and arrogant man who defies all who do not agree with him; by the end of the play, a new Oedipus has emerged, one who has been humbled and who has become accountable for his sins, regardless of whether or not he has inflicted them consciously or not. It is in this acceptance of his limitations that Oedipus finds true value in his life.
The effect of Oedipus’ purgation is shared by the audience who is moved to pity this wretched soul. They are left wiser as the chorus chants:
“And none can be called happy until that day when he carries His happiness down to the grave in peace.”
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TheBestNotes.com Staff. "TheBestNotes on Oedipus Rex/Oedipus the King".
. 09 May 2017