Abele 1 Benjamin Abele Dr.

Carmen Comeaux English 1102 17 April 2013 Defying Both Her Gender Role and Fate: Jocasta’s Tragedy in Oedipus Rex Like in most ancient civilizations, women in ancient Greece were not valued as highly as the men. (“Women in Ancient Greece” 3) The society promoted a lesser view of women in comparison to men. (“Women in Ancient Greece” 4) Men were granted and accepted into higher roles in society, while women were the head of the household, however important that job may be. (“Women in Ancient Greece” 6) Women in this time period dealt with laid out expectations for them. (“Women in Ancient Greece” 9) The culture of the society created an expectation of all women: a society which forced women to a specific role and accept the fact that they were not equals to their male counterpart. (“Women in Ancient Greece” 13) The character, Jocasta, from Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex steps outside of this role. She tries to reject the prophecy that is laid out for her. She denies the wishes of the Gods and attempts to control her own destiny. One of Jocasta’s major tragic flaws, fear of the future, causes her to renounce the expectation of motherhood imposed by her society through abandoning her child in defiance of the Gods, which in doing so, condemns her to the punishment brought by her fate. One of Jocasta’s tragic flaws is her fear of the future. She fears the prophecy about her son, Oedipus. In order to combat her fear, she attempts to prevent the prophecy from being fulfilled. Jocasta believes she can change her fate by taking the life of her son. The fact that Jocasta goes against her prophecy and believes she has successfully killed her son displays feminist ideology because of her rejection to expectations. However, when Oedipus starts delving into his past, Jocasta attempts stop Oedipus by urging him, “Why should a man whose life seems ruled by chance live in fear—a man who never looks ahead, who has no certain vision of his future? It’s best to live haphazardly, as best one can”

Here. Her refusal of her fate shows her expression that she will not follow her role in order to attempt to better her life. she continues to deny her fate in order to improve her final outcome. She relinquishes her responsibilities of motherhood. Instead. her husband. After hearing the prophecy. As time passes. Oedipus. “*i+n the name of the gods. and herself. but realizes and accepts why he should have died as an infant. I would not have brought such agony to myself or to my friends” (Sophocles . She continues to avoid her fate. Instead she takes him to her bed because she can only understand the role of being a wife instead of the mother she is supposed to be to her son. to further question the gods. Jocasta unintentionally protests the cultural expectations of womanhood in her society by abandoning her child. a character’s greatest flaw leads to their demise. thus expressing feminist concepts. she attempts to convince Oedipus to stop dwindling on his past by avoiding fear of the future. Jocasta parts with her infant child. Even after the truth is revealed to her. the flaw which she possesses. After learning the truth of his mother’s identity. This sacrifice is the reason that she is unable to recognize her own son because she chose not to raise him. then stop! Do not keep investigating this. Jocasta’s fear of the predicted fate causes her to choose to take action rather than awaiting the prophecy. and only retained the experience of being a wife. In order to prevent a terrible fate and experience for her son. She lacked the experience of being mothering her own child. as if she can still avoid her fate if Oedipus does not find out she is his mother. “*h+ad I perished then. Her fear of the future is therefore her main tragic flaw because in most tragedies. no! If you have some concern for your own life. Here. I will suffer—that will be enough” (Sophocles 1060). “the son of a corrupted mother” (Sophocles 1361) curses “*w+hoever the man is who freed my feet” (Sophocles 1348) and reasoned. Oedipus does not curse Jocasta for abandoning him. she tries to prevent Oedipus from realizing that he is her son.Abele 2 (Sophocles 975). Jocasta realizes Oedipus is her son before he does and begs.

Trying to end the prophecy. As a strong woman in an ancient Greek society. she gives up motherhood. Teiresias foreshadows the Gods holding superiority and Apollo ensuring that Oedipus will meet his fate. her typical societal role as a female. After Oedipus sees how terrible his fate turns out. which in doing so. Due to her drastic attempt at trying to avoid the fate of her family. Jocasta is a tragic character because her fear of her fate causes her to defy the Gods. justifies Jocasta’s abandonment. ultimately justifying her feminist actions. “It is not your fate to fall because of me. condemns her to the punishment her fate brings. This is the focal point of Jocasta’s tragedy in Oedipus Rex: the contradiction of the justification versus the overall punishment of Jocastas’ outcomes by the Gods. This rejection of the unstoppable is futile. and her role as a mother. Regardless of what Jocasta does. her defiance was still punished. Jocasta is condemned to the terrible fate she had originally received. which justifies the punishment that fate brings her. It’s up to Apollo to make that happen. and also to blame her for the overall outcome of the tragedy. however. He will be enough” (Sophocles 376). rather than his mother for trying to kill him. by trying to kill Oedipus. Teiresias warns Oedipus. her fate. She also rejects the wishes of the Gods in an attempt to control her own destiny. the Gods ensure that her actions are overruled by fate. On the other hand.Abele 3 1351). Therefore because of Jocasta’s defiance. and her efforts to prevent the prophecy from coming true only lead to the horrible outcome of her inevitable . she is led to her own tragic downfall. His acceptance contributes to her feminist actions because they are understood by her son. Her defiance is a feminist act within itself. thus expressing why death would not be a worse outcome for Oedipus. thus justifying her choices. Oedipus’ agreement of his mothers’ actions through cursing the man who kept him alive. One can feel both sympathy for Jocasta because she is brave enough to attempt to save her family and change her role as a woman in ancient Greek society. he eventually comes to understand his mother’s actions of abandoning him. Jocasta is able to reject the prophecy that she is burdened by.

.Abele 4 fate. Jocasta was entirely helpless to her fate and the will of the Gods. The irony of Jocasta causing her own fate to occur while trying to prevent it highlights Jocasta’s tragedy in Oedipus Rex because in hindsight.

d..Abele 5 Work Cited Brizee. <http://webpage."Pace University Webspace. "Full Text Of Oedipus Rex.p. Web.p. 12 Apr. Allen. 2013.d. 2013.edu/nreagin/F2004WS>. <http://owl.p."Welcome to the Purdue University Online Writing Lab (OWL). Web. N. Sophocles. 2013. 13 Apr. N.classic-enotes.english.purdue.d.edu/owl/resource/722/11/> History: Women in Ancient Greece.. n."Classic English Literature Notes. Web. n. 27 Apr. .com/drama/sophocles/oedipus-rex/full-text-of-oedipus-rex/>..pace. "Purdue OWL: Literary Theory and Schools of Criticism . n. N. <http://www.