Oedipus Rex Rhetorical Analysis

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When the king of a large, important city is accused of performing an assassination, it is not surprising that the townspeople are overwhelmed with emotions. In an instance like this, the majority of people go through something similar to the grieving process, in which there are several stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. When King Oedipus of the city of Thebes in Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex is accused of murdering their former king, Laius, the Thebans are astonished and lost. Through the incorporation of imagery, diction, and other forms of figurative language, Sophocles conveys the gradual shifting of the civilian’s feelings on what has happened and how it contributes to their perception of fate. The people undergo…show more content…
They say that Tiresias is a “skilled prophet” (Sophocles 179) who “shatters [them] with terror” (Sophocles 179). By calling him “skilled”, the people believe in the skills of Tiresias, but shudder at the thought of his prediction that Oedipus is the killer. With regards to Tiresias prediction, they say “I can’t accept him, can’t deny him, don’t know what to say” (Sophocles 179). They recognize the skills of Tiresias, but are confused because they trust their king. This leaves them speechless. While they were boasting before about how they would find and hunt down the killer, they are now confused. This may be questioning whether this is really a matter of free will or if it is out of their hands. In addition, Sophocles unites the chorus by using the word “I” instead of viewing them as multiple people like before. By doing this, it shows that everyone is extremely confused and unsure of what to believe. Their belief in the skill of Tiresias as well as their belief that Oedipus is trustworthy leads them to come to no conclusion and take no action. This course of action is completely different from the first two sections of the ode. Instead of telling the gods to help them or wanting them to kill the murderer, they become unsure of what to do and are unable to exercise their free

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