Wednesday, December 19. 2007
I'll be here from 6:45 to 8:30 tonight.
I'll occasionally post study questions on the front page.
EDIT: The clock has struck 8:30! The group is closing up shop for the night. I hope it was useful!
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Kevin W. asks: "Mr. Feraco, can you tell me some examples of beliefs, weakness and dramatic irony?"
Beliefs - Oedipus's short-lived belief that he has broken the prophecy's hold on him; Jocasta's insistence that prophecies are nonsense; Oedipus's refusal to believe Teiresias; Oedipus's belief that the prophecy can be thwarted if he leaves Corinth; Oedipus's shaken belief (both before the prophecy and after he speaks with the messenger) that he knows who his parents are; the Theban populace's belief in both Oedipus (relieve the curse/plague!) and the gods.
Weakness - Oedipus is stubborn, fearful, prone to anger, and not quite as perceptive as he thinks. Jocasta could not bring herself to kill baby Oedipus; neither could the herdsman.
Dramatic Irony - The messenger's "good news" is anything but good. Oedipus rudely insults Teiresias's blindness, but it is the prophet (gifted with foresight) who can see more clearly than the king (blinded by anger, fear, stubbornness, and confusion). Oedipus is expected to free the Thebans from their curse (the Sphinx), but eventually lands the country a fresh curse (plagues and the like). Oedipus swears to kill or cast out the king's killer - not knowing, as the audience does, that he is to blame for the curse.
There are more - many more.
"Fate" refers to destiny - the idea that our lives have already been laid out for us, and that we spend our days marching down that path (likely doing so under the illusion that we enjoy free will). In Oedipus the King, the oracles and prophets spell out fate's dictates for their listeners. Because they hear that Oedipus will grow up to murder his father and marry his mother, Laius and Jocasta decide to get rid of the baby - thus setting him on a course that will lead him to do just that.
Fate has a twisted relationship with free will in the play. As I mentioned during class, the "action" of Oedipus the King takes place well after the original prophecy has been fulfilled. In that case, was Oedipus fated/destined to discover his origins? Was he fated to gouge out his eyes? Was Jocasta destined to kill herself? (If you remember "The Matrix" well enough, you can recognize the same question/paradox there when Neo knocks over the Oracle's vase.)
1. Strophe and Antistrophe are two members of the Chorus...is there anything else we need to know about them? What are their significance?
2. Also, could you elaborate more on the weakness/flaws. Was it a weakness that Oedipus didn't know the truth and Jocasta couldn't handle the truth?
3. What does power signify?
Where to begin...
1) I mainly wanted people to recognize that Strophe and Antistrophe served a particular dramatic purpose (with regards to Greek dramatic traditions), and weren't simply two Thebans with a tendency towards very long-winded speeches. The Chorus essentially serves as a talking prop - it's not inanimate, but it's not quite a character, either. It can interact with and influence the actors on the stage, and it can address the audience, but it can't run around and punch anything (or do much of anything that requires physical action).
2 You could certainly argue that. You could even point out that the Thebans are subject to the whims of fate and the gods - or that our "hero" is permanently hobbled by his parents' cruelty.
3. Power is relative; Oedipus rules over Thebes, and does so without challenges (despite his paranoid assertions to the contrary), but he is powerless to avoid his "fate." Creon has power, and goes relatively unnoticed. Words have incredible power in the play - think about all the pain and suffering that result from the characters' futile attempts to avoid one prophecy.
I could go on, but you get the general idea - power, morality, and free will are deeply unstable concepts in Oedipus.
On Oedipus Review #3, can you explain the answers for the last four questions?
Where is the reversal of fortune?
Where is recognition?
Where is the Complication? Where is the Unraveling?
Where is the Scene of Suffering?
First of all, if you're confused about what the terms mean - which you may be if you can't locate these specific moments in Oedipus - I suggest looking over the abbreviated "Tragedy in Bullets" packet I handed out (it's the one where the copier was behaving oddly and left gray streaks on the bottom of every page).
The reversal of fortune can be found in a couple of places, depending on what you consider to be Oedipus's "true plot." I tend to put it at the moment where the messenger informs Oedipus that Polybus is not his father - thus shattering Oedipus's initial joy at escaping the prophecy's grasp.
Similarly, the recognition can take place there (as Jocasta seems to "get it" afterwards) or when Oedipus finally coaxes the truth out of the herdsman.
The Complication comprises the action that comes before the reversal of fortune; the Unraveling comprises the action that follows it.
Finally, the Scene of Suffering appears during the scene with the Chorus and the messenger, when Oedipus's and Jocasta's bloody fates are described to the audience.
Hope that helps!
"Oedipus is born in Thebes to Laius and jocasta.
is thebes the right answer?
Mr. Feraco, where is Kenneth Y.?
Kenneth Y. Can you send me like a study guide you made again? Thanks!
There will be twenty questions on every quiz, regardless of which incarnation you receive.
Mr. Feraco, here's another question: can you explain a bit more clear about the scene of how Oedipus childhood? Like who give Baby Oedipus to who? Thanks.
Jocasta gave baby Oedipus to a herdsman, who was to stab him through the feet, pin his ankles together, and abandon the baby in the wilderness. After wounding the infant, the herdsman could not bring himself to leave Oedipus to die alone. Instead, he continued onward and passed the baby on to a new shepherd, figuring that the prophecy would never come to pass if the baby was raised so far away.
The shepherd, now carrying Oedipus, transports his young cargo to Corinth, where Polybus and Merope adopt him as their own. The shepherd who brings Oedipus to Corinth appears in the play as the first messenger (the one who brings news of Polybus's recent demise from Corinth).
In addition to the last comment, can you list all the characters that we need to know for tomorrow's quiz? I just don't want to take the quiz blind. Thanks.
No need for me to list them - they're right there on page 10!
wut's the format of the test? short answer? fill in? multiple choice?
Mr. Feraco, can u send me study guide #1? I can't find mine. thanks.
Kelvin - Send me an e-mail, and I'll send you one as a reply.
does power play a big part in the tragedy?
and i dont undersand how "mistake" can be major if most of the events are destined to happen.
That's the fun part of "mistake" - everyone's responses are determined by their view of free will in the play. If there's no free will, then you're correct - there aren't any "mistakes." However, if you consider that the entire play takes place after the original prophecy, you can forcefully argue that Sophocles is really examining the ways in which we ruin our own destiny through arbitrary violence and fear. (Again, your answers can vary; Sophocles has been dead for a while, so I can't tell you conclusively what he was going for with Oedipus.)
And power plays a huge role - depending, again, on how you see "free will" in the story.
Mr. Feraco, there's nothing more to the first messenger than that he tells Oedipus Polybus dies? Or does he have a more significant role?
The messenger who informs Oedipus of Polybus's death once served as a shepherd in Corinth. He delivered Oedipus to Polybus and Merope after the Theban herdsman left the baby in his care.
I can't answer part b) for fear and family
Yu-Fan - Think carefully about the role "family" plays in the story; it's almost as important to the narrative as fate! After all, Oedipus's desire to keep his (Corinthian) family intact was the impetus for the massive scene of destruction.
Fear is also a driving factor; Oedipus's fear of the truth is what keeps dragging people onto the stage - first Teiresias, then Creon, then Jocasta, then the messenger, and - finally - the herdsman. Without Oedipus's fear and dread, would these people even appear? Oedipus's fear is the reason for their existence (at least within the play), and gives them purpose.
Mr. Feraco, on our second quiz it says that..."How does Oedipus kills Laius and others right?" I think I answered it wrong. What's the correct answer for it?
Oedipus runs into a traveling party. They fight, and Oedipus ends up killing all but one (a herdsman who runs away from the battle).
I think it is helpful. Keyword: Oedipus the King. You should go check it out too Mr. Feraco.
MR. FERACO!! u didn't answer my question!!!!
what's the format of the test? also who's the 2nd messenger and wut's his purpose? please help!
I apologize for missing your question! I must have gotten distracted while e-mailing Kelvin.
The format will be partly multiple-choice, and partly short-answer. The number of each - and the difficulty of each - vary with the test version. All tests will have the same number of "easy," "medium," and "difficult" questions.
As far as the second messenger is concerned, he is there to outline the Scene of Suffering. As a practical matter, Oedipus was performed on a fairly tiny stage, which made scene changes next to impossible; the messenger explains what happened "elsewhere," which allows us to "cut back" to the action when it begins taking place in the same external location as before.
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