Two angles on Oedipus Rex

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Now that I'm trying out semi-retirement, I'm filling in some of the gaps in my education, and today I read the play Oedipus the King for the first time. Having only a minimal acquaintance with the story's outline, I'm struck to find that the story's horrible crimes (parricide, incest) aren't presented as arbitrary results of blind fate, but are rooted in an older crime, a long-hidden attempt to kill a child. In a way, the later horrors were a divine vengeance (or nature's vengeance) for that failed act of infanticide.

To me, the devastating force of the play's revelations comes not from the attempted infanticide alone, but from the mother's consent to it: in putting her husband's interests first, Iocasta makes a perverse substitution of husband for child that eventually proves mortal to both parents.

Other folks are paying attention to this play too: a Maryknoll sister recently helped a group of inmates at Sing Sing put on a production of Oedipus the King in November.

(Incidentally, further down, that page has reviews of Sr. Chan's own 2003 play that takes on China's ruthless one-child policy.)

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On life and living in communion with the Catholic Church.

Richard Chonak

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This page contains a single entry by Richard Chonak published on December 23, 2006 2:53 AM.

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