Jocasta Oedipus


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Who was Jocasta and why was she an important character in Oedipus. See example essays written by other students about Jocasta and Oedipus.

Jocasta Oedipus

Jocasta



Queen Bee And Mother Hen
Jocasta is the Queen of Thebes, but it's just not as glamorous as it sounds. By all accounts, it seems like her first marriage with King Laius was a pretty happy one. That is, until he received the prophecy that he was destined to be murdered by his own son. This, of course, is what caused Jocasta and Laius to pierce and bind their one and only child's ankles and send him off to a mountainside to die. (In Ancient Greece, it was common to abandon unwanted children rather than kill them. That way the child's fate was in the hands of the gods, and the parent wasn't considered directly responsible for its death.)

Sometimes Jocasta is criticized for her distrust of prophecies. It's an understandable prejudice, though. Jocasta doesn't know that the prophecy Laius received came true—she believes her son to be dead and her husband to have been murdered by a band of thieves. This seemingly disproves the prophecy that said Laius would die by his son's hand. As far as Jocasta knows, she abandoned her baby boy to exposure, starvation, and wild beasts for nothing. She has very good reason to be more than a little skeptical of prophets.

It's important to note that though Jocasta is critical of prophecy, she isn't necessarily sacrilegious. In fact, within the play we see her praying to the god Apollo, making offerings, and asking for his protection. No other character, besides the Chorus, goes as far. In a way you could see her as one of the more pious characters onstage. (Not that it does her any good.) It seems that it isn't the gods themselves that Jocasta is skeptical of, but instead their supposed servants—men like Teiresias.

Jocasta realizes before Oedipus that he is her son, and that they have committed incest. When she hangs herself with bed sheets, it is symbolic of her despair over her incestuous actions. Interestingly, Jocasta plays both a spousal and maternal role to Oedipus. She loves Oedipus romantically, but like a parent, she wishes to protect Oedipus' innocence from the knowledge of their relationship:

JOCASTA Ah mayst thou ne'er discover who thou art! [...] O woe is thee, poor wretch! With that last word I leave thee, henceforth silent evermore. (1068-1073)

Like Oedipus, Jocasta commits most of her "sins" in ignorance. Yes, she did abandon Oedipus purposely when he was a baby, but even Oedipus says he wishes he had died on that mountainside.

Jocasta Oedipus

Jocasta Oedipus

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Jocasta Role in Oedipus



Jocasta is an integral part of the play, Oedipus The King, by Sophocles. Her actions and thoughts are important to the reader as well as the characters within the play. In this passage there are several themes and significant items that she is addressing. Jocasta is trying to help relieve Oedipus of his fears that come from the oracles. Jocasta states at the beginning of her speech to Oedipus (977-984), that since chance is against him there is no need to worry; he can not know what will occur in the future.

Jocasta, on the other hand, does not follow her own advice, and decides to kill herself instead of living with the guilt of sleeping with Oedipus. She continues to say that because of fate man should live life without thinking of the consequences of his actions. It seems as though Jocasta advocates a world without morals. It is almost as though Jocasta does not see anything wrong with a man sleeping with his mother. Jocasta is being hypocritical when she says that person should not think about his actions because he can not avoid taking them [971].

According to this logic, her discussion to marry Oedipus, even after the oracle stated that she will marry her son who will kill her husband, was inevitable. When she finally becomes aware that Oedipus, her husband, is also her son she is horrified [1060-1061]. If she really believed that a person should live life unthinkingly,” then she would have been able to continue on with her life, and not to have been so distraught by the news. However, she goes so far as to kill herself [1246-1252].

While Jacostas speech point to her hypocrisy, it also points to a world without morals – a world where man should do whatever he wants and does not have to worry about his actions. Best to live lightly, as one can, unthinkingly,” Jocasta says, painting a portrait of a society without morals. One might say that Sophocles here argues that fate is responsible for everything and that man can do nothing to avoid it. In this play we realize that man is punished for acts that may be considered immoral. The fate of a person still rests on the actions that he commits.
If Oedipus had not killed Laius, then the oracles decree would never have come to pass. Lined throughout the play are examples of people suffering for the actions that they committed that were immoral: the people of Thebes suffer from a plague because they have not avenged the murder of their Laius; Oedipus suffers for killing his father, and sleeping with his mother. In Oedipus case he punishes himself by blinding himself. He does this because he knows that the acts that he committed are so horrible.

He is unable to live with himself, seeing the results of his actions, Ismene and Antigone. Oedipus blinds himself, so that he would not have to see the products of his terrible deed, his daughters [1272-1276]. Oedipus might be physically blind only at the end of the play, but from the beginning of the play he is unable to see what his future holds for him. Jocasta infers in her speech that Oedipus, just like most other men, is blind when it comes to his future. Jocasta states that because man does not determine his own future; he can not control the events that will affect his future.
He is subject to what fate determines for him. This is evident in the fact that even though Oedipus knew from the oracle that he would kill his father and marry his mother. He was still unable to predict that Polybus was not his father, and that Laius was. Oedipus thought he knew exactly how to escape the oracle, but in the end he lost. The people who he thought were his parents were not really his parents, and the man that he killed was really a king, and his father. Nothing is clear for him at this moment.

Towards the end of the play everything does become apparent to him, but he can only see what had occurred in the past, and not the future. It is ironic that the only person within the play that was able to see the future was a blind man. Oedipus even mocked Teiresias that he is blind. In the end we see Oedipus as the blind man: in both aspects, that he can not see physically, and that he was unable to see his future [370-372]. One of Oedipus greatest mistakes were that he was unable to see that he is sleeping with his own mother.
Jocasta, in this passage, is not so against a man sleeping with his own mother. She states, man has slept with his mother many times before in many other circumstances, but only the man who does not give it much thought will continue to live peacefully. It seems that she is telling Oedipus to be inhuman. She says that Oedipus should not fear sleeping with his own mother. Oedipus, rightly so, is very upset at this point it the play, because he is filled with fear when he thinks of committing such a vile act [984-986].

It is unnatural for a person to sleep with his mother, yet Jocasta insists that it is fine. Jocastas speech is one of great importance it has several ideas that Sophocles is trying to stress throughout this play. She states that man can not get away from his fate. She also offers several pieces of advise to Oedipus which seem to go against what she feels or does. Overall this passage is important for the reader to understand the themes, characters, and their positions within the play.

Jocasta Oedipus

Related Essay Topics

Jocasta Oedipus How is Oedipus a Tragic Hero? Why is Oedipus a Tragic Hero?

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