Oedipus Rex or Oedipus the King

More Than One Jocasta: Ancient and Modern Perspectives 12th Grade

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 judges the various characters of a play. In choosing to tell the story of Oedipus the King through the eyes of Jocasta herself as opposed to the third person point of view employed in the original play, Ruth Eisenberg establishes another vantage point from which Jocasta can be viewed, setting her up more as a victim of circumstance and the gods’ punishment as opposed to an accessory to the penance handed down to Oedipus. Using strong diction, vivid symbols, and passionate emotions, Eisenberg is able to establish Jocasta as a victim who does not have the power to alter her fate as opposed to Socrates’ interpretation of Jocasta being more of an instigator in the fate of Oedipus but still little more than a pawn in the game of the gods. Primarily through the degree of depth into which each author goes into Jocasta’s character, we are able to see two contrasting viewpoints of who Jocasta truly is.

In Eisenberg’s poem, Jocasta, we get a much more in-depth look into Jocasta’s psyche and especially into her...

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