Freud, Incest, Murder, and Oedipus the King Essay

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Freud, Incest, Murder, and Oedipus Rex (the King)

A Freudian analysis of Sophocles' Oedipus Rex (the King) would show that Oedipus truly contained an incestuous nature. This was revealed not only by Oedipus' marriage to his own mother, by whom he had children, but also by his irrational preference for his daughters, Antigone and Ismene. While the attention he showered to his daughters was profound and sexually tinged, he dismissed his sons as creatures able to take care of themselves. Although he was unconsciously attracted to his daughters, he also feared that his daughters will become social outcasts and will be unable to marry.

When Freud in his Interpretation of Dreams made his now famous observations about
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My lord! most noble Creon! could I now But hold them in my arms, then I should think I had them as I had when I could see them. Ah! what is this? Ah Heaven! do I not hear my dear ones, sobbing? Has Creon, in his pity, sent to me My darling children? Has he? Is it true? Creon. It is; they have always been your delight; So, knowing this, I had them brought to you. (lines 1396-1413)(2)

The sons are dismissed with the conventional comment that men are better able to take care of themselves than women. Then Oedipus focuses all his love and sorrow on Antigone and Ismene. This is not a spur-of-the-moment reaction but a behavioral pattern. Oedipus himself stresses that his daughters always sat beside him at table and ate from every dish that he ate from, whereas the sons, presumably, sat at a distance and were neglected. This long-time preference of Oedipus for his daughters is well known. Creon, for instance, is so intensely aware of it that he anticipates the king's wish and brings the daughters before Oedipus makes his request.

The lament of Oedipus for his daughters is a long one, and it does not end until he is assured that Creon will take care of them: Oedipus. See you I cannot; but I weep for you, For the unhappiness that must be yours, And for the bitter life that you must lead. What gathering of the citizens, what festivals, Will you have part in? Your high celebrations Will be to go back home, and sit in tears.

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