Motherhood In Oidipus The King

1955 Words 8 Pages
Motherhood is an extensively explored subject within Greek tragedies. Most mothers in Greek tragedies play pivotal parts in the plot and contribute to the theme of the play as a whole. In the Greek tragedy King Oidipous by Sophocles, Jokasta’s role and influence as a mother shows that she is featured in the tragedy as an instrument of fate and to show how the role of a wife can conflict with being a mother; consequently, Jokasta’s roles are a major part in the meaning and outcome of the play.
Throughout King Oidipous Jokasta’s actions lead to Oidipous’ prophecy of killing his father and marrying his mother being realized. This shows that Jokasta works as an agent of divine will and contributes to the theme that prophecies are true predictions
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Even when Jokasta reassures Oidipous that the supposed death of Laios by bandits proves prophecies are not absolute indicators of the future, Oidipous still replies that he “must shudder by necessity” at the thought of marrying his mother (986). Furthermore, once Jokasta and Oidipous find out the truth of their relationship, they both act in extreme ways. Jokasta commits suicide and Oidipous gouges his eyes with pins from her clothing. Both are horrified by the incest they have committed, and Jokasta cannot bear to live with it while Oidipous cannot bear to see any more of the terrible truth about the crime he committed by causing his mother to also play the role of the wife. Another interesting reaction Oidipous has when he finds out the truth is grabbing a sword, asking for the messenger to tell him where “his non-wife wife,/ and twice-plowed field that bore his children and himself”, and breaking his way into Jokasta’s room (1256-1257). Referring to Jokasta as a field also connects to the city’s sickness and how Jokasta’s relationship with Oidipous caused all types of motherhood to stop, including new crops being grown. When Oidipous finds Jokasta, she is dead already, but his actions leave the readers wondering if he was planning on killing her. Since he does not end …show more content…
Her character contributes to the theme by showing that she is both Oidipous’ wife and mother and thus proving the prophecy of Oidipous killing his father and marrying his mother comes true. Her character also emphasizes the conflict that arises from having the combined role of a wife and mother by showing all of the ill-effects of her marriage to her son. Chief among these effects is the plague within the kingdom as well as the suicide of Jokasta and the gouging of Oidipous’ eyes. The contrasting roles Jokasta plays as a wife and mother also creates a sense of tension and suspense for the readers and audience of the play due to the foreshadowing and imagery within the text. As a mother in the Greek tragedy King Oidipous, Jokasta shows that some key aspects of mothers within Greek tragedies are illustrating the theme of the work as a whole as well as showing how the role of a mother can conflict with the role of a

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