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Published: 24-09-2019

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More Than One Jocasta: Ancient and Modern Perspectives

In Socrates’ Oedipus the King, the character of Jocasta plays a pivotal role in the plot. How one views Jocasta, the mother, and later, unknowingly, wife of Oedipus, is integral to progression of the story and to how one particular judges the numerous characters of a play. In picking to tell the story of Oedipus the King via the eyes of Jocasta herself as opposed to the third individual point of view employed in the original play, Ruth Eisenberg establishes one more vantage point from which Jocasta can be viewed, setting her up far more as a victim of circumstance and the gods’ punishment as opposed to an accessory to the penance handed down to Oedipus. Using robust diction, vivid symbols, and passionate feelings, Eisenberg is in a position to establish Jocasta as a victim who does not have the energy to alter her fate as opposed to Socrates’ interpretation of Jocasta becoming more of an instigator in the fate of Oedipus but nevertheless small far more than a pawn in the game of the gods. Mainly through the degree of depth into which every author goes into Jocasta’s character, we are in a position to see two contrasting viewpoints of who Jocasta actually is.

In Eisenberg’s poem, Jocasta, we get a significantly more in-depth appear into Jocasta’s psyche and specially into her relationship with Laius. Jocasta throughout the poem expresses that she has had no manage more than her life and has been forced to listen to the whims of other folks as opposed to creating her personal choices. As early on as line twelve, when Jocasta says she is “fifteen and afraid to resist,” we commence to see her as a victim of Laius. Laius is treating her not as a human but as an object, one thing subject to his will and fancies. Describing Laius as having “icy eyes” (18) and as a “deceitful man” (50/51) we as readers start to see a image of a resentful marriage. Laius’ cold nature is contrasted with the warmth of Aphrodite that runs via Jocasta and the fire that burns inside her for Oedipus. Whereas in Oedipus the King there had been no indicators of any damaging feelings from Jocasta to Laius, Eisenberg sets Jocasta in firm opposition against Laius. As a result, the identical woman who in Socrates’ original play seemed in line with the corruption and sadness that Laius brought down upon Oedipus is, in Eisenberg’s poem, in stark opposition to Laius, a seeming beacon of light against the dark hate that Laius carried with him. In performing so, Eisenberg areas Jocasta and Oedipus in the very same boat, both as victims who have had no say in their independent fates.

Socrates established Jocasta and Oedipus as two very separate, unlinked characters, with one particular, Jocasta, on the side of the Gods, merely a component of Oedipus’ punishment. Although there are indicators that Socrates saw some sympathy for Jocasta, as she pleads with Oedipus not to question his origins all through the play, Socrates does not try to go into depth at all with her character. She is a portion to a complete in the gods’ strategy and nothing a lot more. Even so, in Eisenberg’s play Jocasta is seen entirely differently, standing up to Laius and the gods, decrying their tyranny. Saying that the gods “blinded me to his [Oedipus] scars, his age, any resemblance to Laius,” (286/287) she rightfully calls out the gods for what they have put her through, describing their actions as absolutely nothing a lot more than “heavenly whim” (311). Jocasta takes manage of her life in Eisenberg’s poem, shaking her fist at the gods (283/284) and ultimately, in stepping off the stool “onto the air” (319) she appears to rise above the prophesy, fighting the gods until her final breath. She shows that she is a human with her personal wills and desires, not just a plaything for the gods.

The main contrast between Socrates and Eisenberg in how Jocasta is viewed lies mostly in the degree of depth to which she is discussed. Socrates sees Jocasta as one thing equivalent to Laius, a lady whose primary part is to aid the gods carry out their punishment against Oedipus. Nevertheless, Eisenberg chooses to stick to a different route and go in excellent detail into Jocasta’s thoughts, establishing her as a particular person in firm opposition to the whims of Laius and the gods and an individual who wasn’t afraid to stand up for what she believed in, even if it was in defiance of the gods. The variations in diction, speech, and symbolism amongst Oedipus the King and Jocasta are what establish this contrast, and in performing so cause us as readers to entirely query not only who Jocasta and the gods are, but to also query our personal lives and if we are doing sufficient to establish conscious change for ourselves.
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