Recognition and Reversal





Recognition and Reversal

Oedipus is the main character in the Oedipus plays, and his character, as well as others, experience many recognitions and reversals. An example of recognition and reversal comes when Creon returns from the oracle with news that the solution to Thebes’ pestilence is finding Laius’ killer. Oedipus vows to find out who murdered the late king, and he succeeds. However, he turns out to have killed the late king Laius. The plot is reversed in that he had vowed to drive out the murdered, but he himself is the current king of Thebes. What is he to do?

The second instance of recognition and reversal comes when the shepherd from Corinth ascertains that Oedipus was indeed the child of King Laius and his wife. Jocasta, the widow of the late king and the current queen, realizes that the reveal means that she married her own son. She tries her best to dissuade Oedipus from further pursuing his investigation of who his birth parents were. Jocasta fulfilled the prophecy that Oedipus would marry his mother. When Oedipus realizes that he indeed married his own mother, he is shocked because he thought that he was from Corinth. Jocasta tried to keep the truth from him. Will the queen protect her son or avenge the killer of her late husband?

The third instance of recognition and reversal for Oedipus’ character comes when the messenger from Corinth arrives with the News that Polybus, the king of Corinth, is dead. Long before, the oracle had given Oedipus the prophecy that he would kill his father. The news that Polybus had died naturally brought him joy that he managed to run away from the prophecy. However, it soon comes to light that Polybus was not Oedipus father, and this leads Oedipus to probe further for the truth. He finds out that he did not escape the prophecy but killed Laius, his birth father.

Works Cited

Sophocles, E. A. Oedipus the king. Classic Productions, 1994.