How does each character in Oedipus the King handle grief? Provide textual evidence for support.

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Oedipus handles his grief in a physical sense by gouging out his own eyes with the golden brooches of his wife/mother Jocasta. Obviously, he is consumed with misery as the entire weight of the situation has crashed down around him.

However, he is not completely without reason. He thinks of his children, especially his girls, and pleads with Creon, “I pray you, care for them.”

Jocasta, as the reality of the situation begins to dawn on her, tries to get Oedipus to stop questioning the messenger. She says to Oedipus, “For the gods’ sake, if you have any care for your own life, forbear this search! My anguish is enough.” When Oedipus refuses to stop questioning, she runs in to the palace and hangs herself.

The chorus, speaking for the Theban people, after literally singing Oedipus’ praises, says, “Alas, thou child of Laius, would, would that I had never seen thee!” They feel they would have been better off if Oedipus had never come to Thebes, despite all the good he did.

But at the end the chorus, considering the unpredictability of life, advises the audience to keep their thoughts focused ahead, “Therefore, while our eyes wait to see the destined final day, we must call no one happy who is of mortal race, until he has crossed life’s border, free from pain.” This softens the grief-stricken ending by relating the idea that we will all suffer in this life, but not in the next.

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