Oedipus The King: Play Analysis

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Bernard Knox proposes that Sophocles’ Oedipus the King is “the dramatic masterpiece of the Greek theatre” (231). The play embodies two key elements required for a masterpiece – plot and active engagement. The plot of Oedipus the King primarily focuses on Oedipus’ journey to discover the murderers of the former King of Thebes, King Laius, in order to save the citizens of Thebes from a plague. The performance of Oedipus Rex engages the audience, allowing them to follow along with the sequence of events leading up to Oedipus’ anagnorisis. The performance engages the audience by incorporating them as the citizens of Thebes. This brings the audience into the realm of the play rather than ignoring them as merely detached spectators.
According to Knox, a great plot is crucial to a great play and he argues that Oedipus the King had “perhaps the greatest” (148). The key to the success behind the plot of Oedipus the King is the overwhelming focus on discovery of the truth. From the start, it is made clear that the decision to track down the killer of King Laius stems completely from the free will of Oedipus. “I” is repeated numerous times in many of
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The use of male nudity to emphasize Oedipus’ reaction to the discovery not only shows a literal interpretation of the reveal but also serves to engage and facilitate the audience into feeling a crucial element of Greek tragedy – catharsis. The audience is made to feel uneasy and uncomfortable. Nudity is almost universal in making any person feel revealed and uncomfortable, no matter who is nude. Its use in Oedipus Rex strengthens the emotions present in the audience. Oedipus’ outcome is because he wanted the best for the citizens of Thebes, and by extension, Oedipus suffers because he wanted the best for the audience. This personal connection between Oedipus and the audience members is what truly invokes sympathy for

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