Was Oedipus Framed?

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The myth of Oedipus has haunted the Western imagination for more than two millennia. Reared on a Freudian vocabulary, we have today learned to recognise Oedipus as the archetypal culprit of parricide and incest. Therefore, it appears all the more peculiar that the most famous dramatization of the myth, Sophocles'Oedipus Rex, seems to leave the question of guilt suspended. Since the time of Voltaire, it has not gone unnoticed in criticism that Sophocles'play contains a perplexing inconsistency concerning the all-decisive question of Oedipus'complicity in the murder of his own father: an inconsistency that would seem to clear Oedipus, from a gross miscarriage of justice-some have argued. The article focuses on the problematic question of guilt in the canonical drama and the later critical solutions that have been offered to it. The "unresolvedness" of the drama is interesting, because it brings out into the open some essential discussions of how all narratives are structured. Finally, the article contains a brief discussion of the extent to which the tragic structure of the play can be said to be determined by its historical context.
Original languageEnglish
JournalOrbis Litterarum
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)134-145
Publication statusPublished - 1999

ID: 2736880