How do Oedipus the King (Oedipus Rex) and King Lear relate to each other?

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e-martin | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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There are a number of ways to connect these two plays. Oedipus Rex and King Lear offer some topical similarities as well as some thematic similarities.

Looking at the topical similarities first:

  • Each play concerns a king who gives up a kingdom by choice.
  • The children of the king are impacted and affected by the king’s decisions as much as the king is affected by them.
  • The “voice of reason” is a female character in both plays.
  • Each play incorporates elements of prophecy.

The thematic similarities are more complex than the topical ones and require interpretation and argument to support the connection.

  • In both plays the king chooses a course of action that is meant to be compassionate, but which ultimately is destructive.
  • Both plays explore the notion that sometimes it is better not to know. Some stones are best left unturned.
  • Related to the subject of knowledge is the idea, central to both plays, of denial that gives way to revelation.

 

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