Oedipus Rex (2 of 2)

I’d like to start out with a cartoon by Kate Beaton that I thought was funny. Kate Beaton is a Canadian cartoonist/children’s book author who sometimes takes a book and makes a comic about it solely from what the cover looks like. And this one had Oedipus in it.


Regarding this comic, I didn’t really pick up on an “Oedipus complex” back when I read Hamlet, but it works for the joke. Anyway, even though I didn’t find Hamlet very Oedipus-like, I did expect Oedipus to be a little more Hamlet-y coming in to this assignment.

You know, a bratty grown man who still lives with his parents and loves his mom and wants to kill his dad. Instead, Oedipus is a wanderer who kills a mean dude, saves a kingdom, marries the widow queen, and THEN finds out the guy he killed was his dad and his current wife is his mom. (Assuming Fosso’s conspiracy theories don’t apply.) His attitude surrounding the complex named after him surprised me.

Oedipus: Don’t say that word. Don’t think that word.

Jocasta: The word is true.
And knowing who you are.
I love you still.

Oedipus: How can you say it?

Jocasta: Because the word is truth.

It takes plenty of coaxing from Jocasta for Oedipus to get over the ickiness of his situation. He didn’t fall in love with her because she was his mother, only because she was pretty and they clicked. Which is still gross and illegal, but not the blatant incest I thought it would be.

Our tragic hero doesn’t even meet the most tragic end. Maybe it is thanks to the version we read, but if the ending is universal, Oedipus doesn’t die. He’s probably GOING to die, but we don’t see his death, or its consequences. (Unless his death is shown in the staging of the last scene, and therefore not listed in the script’s dialogue). Even his mutilation is self-inflicted, not the work of a monster or rival or vengeful god.

So, Oedipus does not spend the whole play “mother banging” (as Beaton would say), he is initially grossed out at his affection toward Jocasta, and although the ending is sad, he does not die dramatically, like in battle or something. He’s nothing at all like I thought he’d be, which is actually a pleasant surprise.

Source: Oedipus Rex (2 of 2)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.