Sophocles' Oedipus the King and Cocteau's The Infernal Machine

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Sophocles' Oedipus the King and Cocteau's The Infernal Machine Sophocles' Oedipus the King and Cocteau's The Infernal Machine relate the same story, yet from quite different angles. Sophocles' play is written in heightened language and spends 1,530 lines on an hour of time. On the other hand, Cocteau's characters speak colloquially, and his 96 pages cover 17 years, putting much more emphasis on the events prior to where Sophocles begins his play. Sophocles and Cocteau present Oedipus' character in different lights, and through these characters express contrary themes. Sophocles' proud yet wise Oedipus reveals that a human's future is determined by his actions, while Cocteau's haughty yet immature Oedipus suggests that mortals' fates are completely predetermined by the gods. In both plays Oedipus appears to have extreme pride; while Sophocles' clever Oedipus has reason for his pride, Cocteau's foolish Oedipus is arrogant without cause. Sophocles' Oedipus solves "the (sphinx's) riddle by (his) wit alone."(Soph .O.T. 397) The Sphinx sits on the road to Thebes and kills anyone who can not answer her riddle until Oedipus appears, solves the riddle, and saves Thebes. It is at this point that he becomes King of Thebes and rules his people well. He does not know that he has killed his father, the former king, and married his mother. When his presence in Thebes causes a plague to strike the city, he sincerely seeks out the cure for his city's plight. <block quote>I know you are all sick, yet there is not one of you, sick though you are, that is as sick as I myself. Your several sorrows each have single scope and touch but one of you. My spirit groans for city and myself and you at once. You have not roused m... ... middle of paper ... ...sary of Literary Terms, 7th ed. New York: Harcourt Brace College Publishers, 1999. Cocteau, Jean. (1963). The Infernal Machine and other plays. (Bermel, Albert.). New York: New Directions. Ehrenberg, Victor. “Sophoclean Rulers: Oedipus.” In Twentieth Century Interpretations of Oedipus Rex, edited by Michael J. O’Brien. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1968. Jaeger, Werner. “Sophocles’ Mastery of Character Development.” In Readings on Sophocles, edited by Don Nardo. San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press, 1997. Sophocles. (1991). Sophocles I: Oedipus the King, Oedipus at Colonus, Antigone (Grene, David.). Chicago: University of Chicago. Sophocles. Oedipus Rex. Transl. by F. Storr. no pag. http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/etcbin/browse-mixed new?tag=public&images=images/modeng&data=/texts/english/modeng/parsed&part=0&id=SopOedi

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