Themein Oedipus Tyrannus and Don Quixote
A theme is themain unifying idea, or message, of a literary or artistic work. Themessage may be about life, society, or human nature. Some themes arenot confined to a particular culture, time or society, because theyexplore timeless and ubiquitous ideas. These are called universalthemes. They are present across time and cultures because they dealwith common aspects of people’s experiences. One example of such aproposition is identity. While Oedipus Tyrannus explores the tragicstory of an individual’s journey of self-identification and theconsequences of this revelation, Don Quixote illustrates thedifficulty of having a self-image that is not supported by realityand both works are illustrative of the different paths we as humansundertake in for self awareness. The following essay attempts tosupport the above thesis statement.
Oedipus Tyrannusis a play by ancient Greek playwright Sophocles. It is a novelwritten during a time when the glory and power of Athens wasbeginning to show the first signs of decline. Athens was at war withSparta, and in 428 B.C., Athens suffered a plague that decimated itspopulation. These contemporary events and mood are reflected inOedipus the King as Sophocles incorporates both the glorious reign ofTheseus, founder and hero of Athens, and the subsequent conflictamong the states of Greece. In this story Oedipus is a man determinedto identify, expose, and punish the man who murdered his father, onlyto learn that the murderer was himself. An example to support thisfrom the book is whereby Oedipus shifts from search of murderer tosearch of identity. “Parents? What do you mean?” (Sophocles 600).The theme develops in this manner, where he says “Nothing can stopme now. I must know everything” (Sophocles 1346). “I will beginthe search again, I will reveal the truth, expose everything, and letit all be seen. I’m their son, they are my parents” (Sophocles160). This was clear evidence showing the chief character’s attemptto identify himself as well as the consequences of this revelation.
Oedipus, the King,is also reflective of the culture and values of the Greeks duringthat period. Governance is a prominent topic in the story. Thecitizens placed a high value on reason, and believed that it shouldbe the defining characteristic of their leaders. This is reflectedin the play when Oedipus is accused of letting his anger over aperceived slight cloud his judgment. Oedipus’ story is one ofineluctable destinies determined by the deities and he ends upfulfilling the very prophecies he sought avoid. The consequences oflearning about his true identity as the man responsible for the deathof his father as well as sleeping with his mother can be termed insimple words as falling actions. These discoveries make Jocastadepressed and she resolves to commit suicide. Also these acts makesOedipus poke his eyes with pins and he becomes blind. Oedipus is alsobanished from Thebes by Creon. His falling action becomes his cursewhich is followed by a heavy storm. Oedipus later recognizes it as asign of his imminent death (Sophocles159).
On the other hand,Don Quixote was written during a time when Spain’s power, likeAthens when Sophocles was writing the story of Oedipus, was showingits first signs of decay. The society was also experiencing of socialtumult. Cervantes is developing an emblematic frontispiece in hisstory, since in Renaissance the visual image inclusions was not justto illustrate but to translate into a certain outline of pictorialart. The thing that is presented by this picture is a fundamentaltheme in the novel and what follows is the attempt of Don Quixote toreconcile real world with his self-image as illustrated in the thesisstatement. What have been considered as comic image, ends up being aserious intention since it contributes to a stated purpose of theauthor of the novel (Cervantes33).
Spain had launchedthe Invincible Armada in 1588, only to be defeated by a far smallerEnglish fleet. Many historical scholars term the ordeal as thebeginning of the scramble of the Spanish military dominance. Further,in 1478 the Tribunal of the Holy Office of the Inquisition was formedby Ferdinand and Isabel, and began nearly two centuries ofpersecution and censorship. This religious maltreatment resulted inthe expulsion of the country’s Jewish population, and with them,valuable commercial skills and networks. The country was in anobvious decline and “desengaño” or disillusionment, became acommon motif in Spanish literature, and this was very evident in thisbook whereby Don Quixote is observed as a person fighting temptationwhen the emblem’s visual image is placed in this context. The imageof Quixote is a pictorial illustration of a verbally presentedcircumstance that unfolds slowly. This is anchored simultaneously inmyth as well as in Quixote’s reality (Cervantes41).
At the time Cervantes was writing Don Quixote, popular writing wasdominated by stories of knights, damsels in distress, and the code ofchivalry. He also makes a number of references to Orlando Furiosowhich is an Italian poem. Don Quixote claims that he had to take ahelmet he referred to as magical one, to Mambrino. Additionally, DonQuixote contains several stories which do not involve the keycharacters of this book.
Sophocles(2008). Oedipusthe king.New York: Oxford University Press.
Cervantes,Saavedra M. DonQuixote.Trajectory, Inc, 2014. Internet resource.