The Significance of Women in the Play Oedipus Essay

751 Words Apr 16th, 2010 4 Pages
"When you say Man," said Oedipus, "you include women too. Everyone knows that." She said, "That's what you think." These lines, from the ending of Muriel Rukheyser's poem "On Oedipus the King, Myth," comment on the significance of women both in the play and in society. Though the character of Oedipus suggests that women are equal, the issue of the true role of women is brought up in the poem, and is raised in Sophocles' play.

The female who plays the largest role in Sophocles' play is Oedipus' wife and mother, Iokaste. From the beginning, one can assume that she has little say in the events of her life. As queen of Thebes, she had little power over the rulings of the kingdom. Furthermore, once news of her husband's death came
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Women have little responsibility in the workings of society and are basically seen as child bearers. For example, anytime Iokaste is mentioned, the fact that she is the bearer of children seems to always follow. In the first scene, Oedipus describes how indebted he is to Laios. "Now I, having the power that he held before me, having his bed, begetting children there, upon his wife, as he would have, had he lived their son would have been my children's brother, if Laios had had luck in fatherhood!" (727) Iokaste is not presented as an actual being; instead, she is described as Laios' property that had come into Oedipus' possessionalong with the throne, land, and power. A similar instance occurs in the third scene when Choragos says, "It is this very place, stranger; he is inside. This is his wife and mother of his children." Instead of presenting Iokaste as the queen of Thebes, Choragos introduces her as belonging to Oedipus and as the bearer of Oedipus' offspring.

The insignificance and expectations of women in society are further presented in the Exodus. In the Exodus, Oedipus says, "As for my sons, you need not care for them. They are men, they will find some way to live. But my poor daughters, who have shared my table, who never before have been parted from their father take care of them, Kreon; do this for me." (760) Oedipus also says,? Then, whom can you ever marry? There are no bridegrooms for you, and your lives must wither
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