Oedipus Notes by Dr. Honora M. Finkelstein 2 - Oedipus and the Hero’s Journey Look at the Oedipus story and see how many of these roles Oedipus plays in the course of his tragedy. He is Innocent, Warrior, Martyr, and Orphan, all in the course of the play, and he has been Wanderer and will be Magician before this classical trilogy is complete (there being two more plays in the cycle). Oedipus plays out several roles of the hero’s journey. Before he learns that he is the man of sin whom he seeks in order to lift the plague from Thebes, he plays the role of the Innocent. Once he has learned he is the man, he plays the Orphan; of course, he is literally an orphan when Jocasta kills herself. He is a Wanderer at the end of the play, and a case may be made that as he seeks information from the other characters, he is also in a Wanderer’s role, because he cannot make any decisions without new information. He is a Warrior in the context of the play as he takes an active role in calling for judgment and punishment of the culprit. He is a Martyr/Lover when he accepts punishment for himself (and gouges out his own eyes) in order to preserve the integrity of the city. A case can even be made that to some extent he is a Magician at the end of the play as he assimilates the lessons of the experience and realizes nothing further can ever harm him. Certainly outside the context of the play but within the greater story, he also plays all the roles: he is an Innocent before he leaves his home in Corinth; he is an Orphan when he must leave his home and his adoptive parents upon learning of the prophecy; he is a Wanderer as he goes to seek his fortune in the greater world; he is a Warrior in his encounters both with Laius and with the Sphinx; he is a Martyr/Lover in both his willingness to take on responsibility for a family and for the town of Thebes; and he is a Magician as he makes his peace with his experience and becomes a blessing for the land of his burial, Colonus. Made with Xara Website by Susan Smily