Critically evaluate the last scene of Oedipus Rex.

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Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In terms of plot, Jocasta's suicide is announced, Oedipus blinds himself and begs to be taken to the mountains to live, and Creon is left to reign in Thebes.  It's the denouement of the play, and it does provide a fairly satisfying ending to the events that have happened.

This final scene is the coming-to-pass of the curses Oedipus himself set out for the one who brought such devastation on his city.  He pronounced banishment on the one who kept the news of who killed Laius, deliberately or not:

"No one shall take him in, or speak to him. He is forbidden communion in prayers or offerings to the gods....  Everyone is to expel him from their homes as it he were himself the source of infection...."

The curse he calls down on the murderer is even worse:

"May he drag out an evil death-in-life in misery."

And if the murderer lives on the king's house, Oedipus says he should be subject to every one of those curses.  Ironically, all of them were applicable to him; he just didn't know it.

So, when he has discovered his horrifying truth, all these curses are his--doubled.  He says good-bye to his sons, asks Creon to take care of his "poor girls," and asks to be banished from the city he so loved.  And as he leaves, we know that Athens has been delivered from the curse which nearly killed it.