Oedipus at Colonus by Sophocles

Essay by kate5287High School, 12th gradeA+, March 2005

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Oedipus at Colonus is a story about a man who regains his heroic stature after having been stripped of his royal title as King of Thebes. This is a play about the fallibility of humans, and the existing possibility of redemption. Oedipus becomes a noble and dignified hero in his death, after being ridiculed as a social outcast. In this play, the dramatist shows how the essential innocence of Oedipus' crimes help him overcome the catastrophic turn of events and come to terms with the ruin of his earthly hopes.

The chorus enters the stage looking for an elderly man who has trespassed into the forests of the Goddesses. They feel that Oedipus intruded into the "untrodden thicket of the virgins" where he had been "roaming through the tangles forests, barefoot and hungry"(107). When Oedipus steps forward, there is a gasp, at the shocking sight of the helpless man with his eyes gouged out.

When Oedipus is asked of his identity, he is reluctant, but eventually reveals himself to the chorus. When the chorus reacts so terribly to his true identity, a theme in the play becomes apparent. Oedipus is forced to live a life of solitude where ever he goes, not just in Thebes. He is frowned upon everywhere, which further proves his role as an outcast.

In the first episode, Oedipus discusses the mistakes he mad as King, and attempts to place blame elsewhere. His explanation is simply that "the things I did were rather done to me". A mood of reverence and affectionate nostalgia is expressed through the description of the landscape around Oedipus. The chorus reveals that Oedipus has "[impelled their] sympathies"(112) after he explained the long story of his unfortunate undoing. One of the motifs in Sophocles' Oedipus is that of forgiveness, and acquiring...