Essay on The Role of Women in Oedipus Rex

1999 Words 8 Pages
For centuries women have fought to obtain basic civil rights and today, they are still fighting to obtain equal rights. From the right to vote to their right to birth control, women have always been trying to assert their own independence in order to expand their freedom. While much progress has been made, there is still room for improvement. However, the evolution of women’s rights and the role of women is mirrored in literature and can be used to illustrate the progression throughout history. Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex is no different. Through the character Jocasta, Sophocles creates a counterpart to Oedipus and uses her to reveal the oppression of women by contrasting her and Oedipus’ relationships and reactions to the prophecy. Throughout …show more content…
During the play, Jocasta exclaims “my child—Poor baby!—it was my child that died first” (Sophocles ii.326-327). Her strong emotional response exerts the fact that this decision made awhile ago still causes her pain. The exclamation of “poor baby” reveals her pity for the small, innocent child and that killing her own child was potentially the last action she wanted to take. However, Jocasta becomes trapped by the “social values” and the “virtue of female submissiveness and obedience to masculine authority” (Story). She suppresses her own ideas and thoughts in order to emphasize her allegiance to her husband. By revealing Jocasta’s ever-present guilt over a decision made many years ago, Sophocles argues that the need to voice one’s own opinions and ideas and reveals that self-advocacy is a desire shared by all. Jocasta’s compliance is seen not only in her relationship with Laios, but with her relationship with Oedipus as well. Through both of these marriages, Sophocles highlights her lack of freedom and her expectance to submit to her husband. Through Oedipus’ search for the truth, Jocasta appears eager to please him and answers every question he has. He commands her to “not ask [him]” questions and to “tell [him] how Laios looked, and tell [him] how old he was” (Sophocles ii.212-214). She also agrees to call upon the shepherd who witnessed Laios death as Oedipus’ request and her desire to obey Oedipus reveals itself when she states “I would not wish to cross you in

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