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Finale Notes from Oedipus the King

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Oedipus the King Finale

The servant speaks to the elders and tells them that the Labdakos household is filled with even more terror than they could imagine. The elders are surprised and ask the servant to tell them what has happened. The servant says that Jocasta is dead. She ran into the house, after leaving Oedipus, and straight into their bedroom where she slammed the door and called out for Laios, as he implanted the seed that had caused all this anguish. Then, she killed herself. At the same time, Oedipus rushed in, shouting and demanding a sword, and demanding his wife. He heard the scream from the bedroom and went in. There, he found Jocasta hanging from a noose. After screaming and moaning, he loosened her and placed her body on the ground.

"He unpinned and tore away the golden brooches from the robes which she was dressed in, raised them up and struck at his own eyeballs, yelling something like, 'You'll not look on the disgraceful things I've done or have had done to me. In darkness now you'll look on those I ought not to have seen, and not know those I yearned to know,'" Line 1268

Topic Tracking: Sight 4
Topic Tracking: Sight 5

Although their years of happiness were truly happy, this all ends today, a day of death and anguish. Oedipus now wants everyone in Thebes to see him, a man who killed his father and wed his mother, and he wants to leave Thebes forever, but has nobody to guide him. As he approaches, the elders pity him, and cannot believe what he has done to himself. They ask him what demon has taken over his body, and he answers that it is just a cloud of darkness that isolates him, a cloud that is "inescapable, unspeakable, unstoppable, driven by cruel winds." Line 1314 When the elders ask him why he blinded himself, he answers that there is nothing sweet for him to see, and that he wishes he had never lived. The elders also wish that he had never lived and that they had never known him, and say that it is better for him to not live than to live blind.

Topic Tracking: Sight 6

Furthermore, they all agree that the man who saved him should be punished. However, Oedipus tells the elders that he does not want their advice anymore, and asks them not to preach at him. He speaks of all his sins, such as killing his father and marrying his mother, and questions how the sight of his children could have ever pleased him. He now finds the city and its towers to be wretched, as is everything else to be seen. He claims that if there were a way he could make himself deaf, he would, as there is also nothing pleasant for him to hear. He curses the road that forked in three, and asks the elders to hide him out of sight of the gods, or to kill him or throw him in the sea.

Topic Tracking: Sight 7

Oedipus realizes how weak he is and tells the elders not to be afraid. At this point, Creon enters and the elders ask him to advise Oedipus.

Oedipus asks how a man so wronged by him could come to help him, but Creon simply says that he is not there to gloat, and takes Oedipus inside so that he does not shame the human race any longer, and because only family should hear about a family's troubles. Also, he claims that the earth, light and holy rain cannot stand the sight of him, and that being such a polluted man, he shouldn't be outside. Then, he asks what Oedipus wants of him, to which Oedipus answers that he wants to be cast out of Thebes.

Topic Tracking: Exile 7

Creon says that he first needs to consult with the god. At this point, Oedipus asks that Jocasta be buried in the palace and that he be left to die in Mount Kithairon, as was supposed to happen many years ago. As for his two boys, he says that they are grown men and can take care of themselves, but his two girls, Antigone and Ismene, cannot, and he asks that Creon take care of them. He then reaches out to touch and hold them, as Creon has pitied him and called them in advance. Oedipus takes this gesture very well, and he says that Creon is a very worthy man. He then speaks to his daughters, pitying them and telling them that they will be shunned from society everywhere. After that, Creon promises to look after them as if they were his own daughters, and Oedipus says a short prayer for his daughters: "to live where time allows, and have a better life than the man who fathered you." Line 1514

Oedipus reiterates his wish to be sent away, and Creon says that it depends on what the gods want. In response, Oedipus says that he hates the gods, but Creon agrees that he will send him away. As his daughters are leaving, Oedipus orders that they stay, and Creon must remind him that he no longer has any authority. After watching all this, the elders address the people of Thebes, telling them to look at Oedipus who:

"knew the famous riddles. He was a mighty king, he was the envy of everyone who say how lucky he'd been. Now he's struck a wave of terrible ruin. While you're alive, you must keep looking to your final day, and don't be happy till you pass life's boundary without suffering grief." Line 1524

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