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How is Oedipus Rex still significant in the 21st century?  I have to study for a test...

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dkantheman11896 | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 21, 2011 at 9:35 AM via web

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How is Oedipus Rex still significant in the 21st century?

 

I have to study for a test and this might be an essay question. I have been sitting in my room thinking and i am coming up with nothing. so much help needed.

 

Tagged with literature, oedipus rex

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readerofbooks | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted December 21, 2011 at 11:44 PM (Answer #1)

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While the aspect of marrying your mother and accidentally killing your father might not be very relevant to our modern age, but the underlying message of Oedipus Rex certainly is.

The chief problem of Oedipus was what the Greeks called hubris, namely his pride. Oedipus thought that the he could solve anything and do anything. He was pretty sure of himself. This was part of his downfall. From this perspective, we can say that this mentality is very much with us today. Think of human pride in technology. Think of the disasters of 2011, such as the BP spill.

Oedipus also had another flaw. He lacked self-knowledge. All along he was the one who was causing the problems. However, he had no clue. Likewise, we can make a case that people today lack self-knowledge. Connected to the first point, perhaps we can say that pride blinds us.

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mstultz72 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted December 23, 2011 at 2:58 AM (Answer #2)

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The above answer is excellent, so I will offer another take:

Oedipus is the noblest of tragic heroes.  Even today, we can learn from his suffering and stubborn pursuit of truth.  Whereas lesser tragic heroes might have committed suicide (like Antigone, Othello, and his wife-mother Jocasta), Oedipus blinds himself for not knowing the truth.  In this act, he both punishes and purges himself, in effect taking responsibility for his crimes and lack of self-knowledge (as he promised from the beginning of the play).  Later, in Oedipus at Colonus, Oedipus becomes a kind of Tiresias, a blind prophet, and the townspeople welcome him as an emblem of dignity in suffering.

Also, Oedipus Rex teaches us that all of our families have skeletons in the closet.  How well do we know our mothers and fathers?  What secrets have they hidden from us?  More, are we destined to make those same mistakes with our children?  Will we inevitably end up like our parents no matter how hard we try to avoid it?  These are eternal questions which Oedipus Rex poses to its readers in every century.  Just ask Hamlet, Orestes, the Loman brothers (Death of s Salesman), and Luke Skywalker.

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student1997 | Student , Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 9, 2012 at 8:17 AM (Answer #3)

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people today still lack self knowledge and people still get into trouble by their arrogance

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