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