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Examine the importance of the following line from Oedipus Rex: "All the generations of...

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khalershor | Student, Undergraduate | eNoter

Posted January 26, 2013 at 6:58 AM via web

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  1. Examine the importance of the following line from Oedipus Rex: "All the generations of the mortal man add up to nothing! Show me the man whose happiness was anything more than illusion followed by disillusion."

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted January 26, 2013 at 12:43 PM (Answer #1)

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I tend to think that this particular line captures much of the basic thematic significance of the drama.  The hubris that is intrinsic to human consciousness is illuminated in this line.  The "generations of mortal man" are fairly insignificant, although humans place a primacy on it.  In the final analysis, the accomplishments of Oedipus do not really stack up to much in comparison to the larger issues of fate and predestination posited against him.  Oedipus is shown to be an individual who has to come to such a realization in the most brutal of manners.  In the end, his own sense of happiness was an illusion, shattered by the reality of what confronted him.  His was on of "illusion followed by disillusion."  He could not see this as a mortal, with physical sight.  It is for this reason that he blinds himself, in order to gain greater sight and greater significance in vision into his own sense of self and his place in the world.  The quote brings out the predicament of Oedipus as well as the thematic reality that governs the play.  Sophocles vision of humanity is one in which myopia reigns supreme, reflecting how individuals see the issue of their own happiness as being real, but in actuality being nothing more than disillusion.

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