DRM100Y1 Lecture Notes - Oedipus Complex, Mimesis, Know Thyself

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Aristotle’s Poetics and Oedipus the King
Week 1 and 2: September 13th-September 24th
Oedipus Reading Notes – Pg. 93-135
-Starting near the end, Oedipus is the king, well respected and
looked up to
o“We do rate you first of men” pg. 95, line 41
-Takes place in the midst of the plague
-Mention of defeating the sphinx
o“We taught you nothing, no skill, no extra knowledge, still you
triumphed.” Pg. 95, line 46-47
- Look to Oedipus for salvation – ‘find us strength, rescue!’ (the
- Priest is rising up the spirits, help us, we know you can! ‘Rule a land
of living, not a wasteland!’ (sense of guilt-tripping)
-The king must weep with his people, feel their pain – pg 95, lines
-Oedipus has sent Creon – his wife’s brother – to Delphi – Apollo the
Prophet’s oracle to get news
oHe is late, foreshadows bad news, pg. 96
-Apollo says to: “Drive the corruption from the land, don’t harbour it
any longer..” pg. 96, lines 109-111
-Example of Oedipus not knowing himself – he says: ‘I’ll bring it all to
light myself’ pg. 97, line 150
-Strong words – “I am the land’s avenger by all rights, and Apollo’s
champion too. Pg. 98 (154-155)
-A lot of foreshadowing in the use of language
- ‘We will see our triumph or our fall’ – pg. 98, 164
-‘Oedipus volunteers himself.’ Line 166
-How irrational Oedipus can be – “If I thought you would blurt out
such absurdities, you’d have died waiting before I’d had you
summoned.” [pg.106, lines 494]
oOedipus is told: “This day will bring your birth and you
destruction” – line 499
-Know thyself – Oedipus asks – “Who is my father?” line 498
-Foreshadowing – “Blind who now has eyes, beggar who now is rich.”
Line 577
oOedipus was at such a high point – “He was the joy of Thebes!
Never will I convict my king, never in my heart.” [pg.108, lines
- Mention of the gods – ‘Zeus and Apollo know, they know, the great
masters of all the dark and depth of human life.’ [pg.108, lines 560-
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- Oedipus says in horror: “And you, his wife, I’ve touched your body
with these, the hands that killed your husband cover you with
blood.” Pg. 116, 907-908
o“Let me slip from the world of men, vanish without a trace before
I see myself stained with such corruption, stained to the heart.”
Pg. 116, 919-922
- “The queen is dead.” Pg. 127, 1366 – she hangs herself
- “You, you’ll see no more the pain I suffered all the pain I caused!
Too long you looked on the ones you never should have seen; blind
to the ones you longed to see, to know! Blind from this hour on!
Blind in the darkness – blind!” pg. 128, 1407
- “Apollo, friends, Apollo – he ordained my agonies – these, my pains
on pains! But the hand that struck my eyes was mine, mine alone –
no one else – I did it all myself!” pg. 130, 1470-1475
- “How could I look my father in the eyes when I go down to death?
Or mother, so abused…I have done such things to the two of them,
crimes too huge for hanging. Worse yet, the sight of my children,
born as they were born, how could I long to look into their eyes? No,
not with these eyes of mine, never.” Pg.131, 1503
- ”Count no man happy till he dies, free of pain at last.” Pg. 135, 1686
Lecture 2 – September 15 th
-What is theatre for? What is the point of theatre?
- Theatre is a place of seeing – root word is THEORY
oOedipus - theme of vision and blindness
oWhat does it mean to see? What are the limitations?
oWhat is the distinction between drama and theatre?
oWhat is the relationship between art and life?
- Tragedy means `goat song` or the sacrificial goat or scapegoat
-Analogies – the theatre is like a picture, has dimensions and depth,
a central focus, idea of seeing
- Mimesis – or ``limitation`` in what we can see
- Many terms are belittling – what`s wrong with the theatre?
o``Stop making a scene!``
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o``Stop acting”
o“He’s just being melodramatic”
o“She’s just putting on a show.”
- Theatre presents us with bad examples
oCan corrupt people
oAssociated with lying – pretending to be someone else
oDifference between make-believe and lying
-Actor is the maker of something that is counterfeit – however, the
actor can only do so by looking at the truth
- But can lead to innovation – conflicting, contradictory impulses
- Plato`s realm of pure ideas
oPlato wants knowledge, education – aka TRUE knowledge
oTheatre indulges lust, violence – but how do you excite
oTeaches us to inflame our passions, instead of master them
oFosters the evil in us
- Selection of details, where do you start? Where do you finish?
- Important: Why start by reading Aristotle?
oHe is the centre of criticism and drama, he is used as a building block
oHe reflects deeply on some works that we’re reading in terms of
historical and cultural context
oHis work initiates a discussion about serious thinking so we may
engage in self-conscious thought
Lecture 3 – September 17 th
-Reality is a process you need to be selective about in order to
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