Sophocles Oedipus the King

Oedipus the King, the play by Sophocles is a story that has been interpreted by many critics, writers, philosophers and psychoanalysts and one of them is Sigmund Freud with his Oedipus complex theory. The Oedipus complex is a psychoanalytic theory that was devised by Sigmund Freud. Oedipus complex is a concept that refers to a child’s sexual desire for a parent of the opposite sex, and this theory is present in Sophocles’ play Oedipus the King. In Oedipus the King, we meet a character who murdered his father and later on marries his mother. Oedipus unconsciously murdered Laius, his father, and later on married his mother Jocasta. In this story, there exists Freud’s theory of Oedipus complex because we meet a character who possesses the traits described by Freud in his Oedipus complex psychoanalytic theory. Oedipus Rex is a piece of literature that best explain Freud’s psychoanalytic theory Oedipus complex. Sigmund Freud uses Oedipus the King as an example of his psychoanalytic theory of the infantile male desire to a parent of the opposite sex.

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Oedipus the King is a story about the King of Thebes who had the destiny to murder his father and marry his mother afterward. As said by Freud, the character of King Oedipus in Oedipus Rex exemplifies an important stage in a person’s psychosexual development. The phases according to Freud’s psychoanalytical theory are age-related where a child’s sexual desires are exerted through various bodily activities and zones. It starts with the moment when a child is attached to its mother while breastfeeding and this brings a bond that creates hatred towards the father. In the Play Oedipus the King, Oedipus was destined to murder his father in the future and marry his mother, and this is why Freud based his theory mostly on this play. Oedipus tried running away from his parents to avoid the prophecy of the oracle but little did he know that he was going to meet his birth father and murder him unknowingly and later on meet his mother and make her his wife. The life of Oedipus explains Freud’s psychoanalytic theory of Oedipus complex.

In the play Oedipus the King, every part of Freud’s psychoanalytic theory is fulfilled by the characterization and the life of Oedipus. Freud attributed his approach to children in their development age where they identify with their parents. In addition, according to Freud, children will always fall in love with one parent who is of the opposite sex and hate the other parents. In the Oedipus complex, Freud theorizes that young boys develop jealousy towards their fathers because of the love and affection they receive from their mother as they grow up and the “result is a murderous rage against their father” (Ahmed 62). In the play, as Oedipus grew up, there was a prophecy that he was to kill his father and make his mother his wife and this is exactly what happened with him, and this best explains the Oedipus complex theory. The Oedipus complex is a theory that explains the developmental process that most children, especially boys undergo just like Oedipus. It represents their identification and a child’s sexual desires for a parent of the opposite sex and hostility towards the other of the same sex just like Oedipus.

According to Freud’s psychoanalytic theory, the Oedipus complex occurs between the ages of three to five years, but its manifestation occurs later on. After King Laius learns from the oracle that he was to die in the hands of his own son, he orders Jocasta his mother to kill the boy after binding his feet tightly. Jocasta gives the responsibility to a servant who abandoned the child in the fields, and he is later on saved. As Oedipus grows up with a stepmother, he learns of the prophecy and runs away from his stepmother and dad so that he could not kill them (Sophocles). Oedipus was younger than his mother was but he went ahead to marry her because he already had an attachment to her as mother and son just like in the theory of Oedipus complex. Moreover, Oedipus identified with and had an attraction to his mother, and this also proves Freud’s Oedipus complex theory. Oedipus suffered from the Oedipus complex madness, and this is the reason why he murdered his father and ended up marrying his mother despite running away from his fate.

In essence, Oedipus King/Rex/Tyrannous by Sophocles is a famous tragedy ever written. As the king, Oedipus was to find a solution to the plague that was facing his city. In the process, he realized that he was the one who murdered his father unknowingly and later on married his mother. Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytical theory of Oedipus complex best explains Oedipus’ character and life. According to Freud’s theory, children tend to get attracted to their parents of the opposite sex, and this is precisely what Oedipus the King did and later on married his mother. Sigmund Freud uses the character and life of Oedipus the King to explain his psychoanalytic theory Oedipus complex.


Works Cited

Ahmed, Sofe. “Sigmund Freud’s Psychoanalytic Theory Oedipus Complex: A critical Study with Reference to DH Lawrence’s Sons and Lovers.” International Journal of English and Literature 3.3 (2012): 60-70. Print.

Sophocles, E. A. Oedipus the King. Findaway World LLC, 2009. Print.