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Oedipus Rex and Harry Potter

Merope, in Oedipus Rex, is the name of Oedipus's adoptive mother. Merope, in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, is the name of Voldemort’s inbred mother. Her entire family has been marrying into each other for generations in order to keep their heritage “pure”. Merope is only mentioned in passing, both in Oedipus Rex and Harry Potter. She is only important to the series because she drugged a non-magical person to fall in love with her, which led to Voldemort’s birth.

It also led to Voldemort’s father abandoning him. Not in the woods with pierced ankles, but in an orphanage. Voldemort also murders his father – except his is deliberate. Much like Oedipus Rex, a servant of the father lives. The servant in Harry Potter doesn’t run away, however, he does take up a shepherd-like role when he stays to watch over the property. He’s eventually killed around 40 years later, when Voldemort, like Oedipus, returns to his original home.

Then there’s the prophecy – Oedipus, like Voldemort, hears of a prophecy, and while trying to avoid it, makes it come true. The prophecy can also be used to draw parallels between King Lauis, Oedipus’s father, and Voldemort. It was the father who went to the Oracle, heard the prophecy that his son would kill him, and then tried to avoid it by abandoning Oedipus as an infant. It is because the father tried to avoid the prophecy that Oedipus later runs into him on the highway and kills him. Voldemort also tries to avoid a prophecy that predicts his downfall, also by killing an infant. Both fail and both suffer for it.

Similarities can also be drawn between Trelawney and Teiresias, the Marauders, Harry’s eyesight, and the Sphinx, but they’re not as strong so I’ll leave them alone. Besides, I’m sure I’ve sufficiently annoyed Sophocles and sophisticated academics everywhere by comparing a classic Greek tragedy with Harry Potter.

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This page contains a single entry by published on November 5, 2005 9:28 PM.

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