Powerful Imagery in Oedipus the King

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Powerful Imagery in Oedipus the King

Theatre has been one of the most predominant art forms apparent in all civilizations for hundreds of years. While many early cultures have played important roles in the shaping of present day theatre, one of the most influential contributions has been from ancient Greece. There were two main types of Greek theatre “ comedy and tragedy. While comedy is an important aspect of Greek theatre, tragedy plays an invaluable role in helping understand the norms and central values common in the Athenian culture. Tragedies were characterized by a conviction held by the tragedian that he is questioning themes that are central to his understanding of the human condition (Joint Associated of Classics Teachers, 1984, p. 306). These tragedies would then be performed for an audience, where these ideas would be questioned and examined by the audience. Within all tragedies there lie a few central ideas “ one of these is the traits of a tragic hero. There are four main traits that differentiate this type of character from others. These four traits are: being descended from noble birth, the intended or unintended desire to resist fate, a violent protest, and the contrast between their final fate and original bright future. In one particular play, Oedipus the King by Sophocles, these four traits are extremely well illustrated and best understood through powerful imagery. There are useful images portrayed that reveal themselves throughout this play which relate to these four traits. In Oedipus the King, the use of the plague as an unavoidable and god-sent punishment, the comparison of Oedipus to a ship's captain and the contrast between sight and blindness help enrich and develop the communication of Sophocles' main tragic ideas to the audience.

Along with being a playwright, Sophocles' was also a prominent citizen in Athenian society (Joint Associated of Classics Teachers, 1984, p. 371).

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