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October 06, 2006

Emma Morris Quote Commentary for Oedipus

“O marriage, marriage, you gave me my life, and then
from the same seed, my seed, spewed out
fathers, brothers, sisters, children, brides, wives –
nothing, no more words can express the shame.
No more words. Men should not name what men should
Never do.” (p. 88, lines 1824-1829)

This passage occurs toward the end of Oedipus Rex, after Oedipus has discovered that he has fulfilled his dreadful fate, and has subsequently blinded himself.

After summarizing his monstrous and fateful deeds, Oedipus states that his marriage to Jocasta has not only been his great advantage in life – he has become king of Thebes because of this union – but has also been his tragic demise. By repeating “marriage” and “seed” Oedipus reveals the double-consciousness of his fate. Oedipus refuses to mediate his grief and shame through words, contending words they are a limiting and horrifying medium for shame -- that men should not speak of things they should “never do” because to speak these words would render their fates real, solid, and fixed. This repetition of “no more words,” finally, reveals Oedipus’s inability to master or combat his fate – which was essentially composed entirely of the Oracle’s words.

Posted by emmorris at October 6, 2006 09:55 AM

Comments

Interesting comment -- good to see that you're continuing your exploration of the idea that these texts are reflexively about words themselves, as you mentioned earlier in one of your peer commentaries during the Poe week.

Posted by: bhattach at October 9, 2006 01:41 AM

Emma-
Your passage choice is interesting because it’s full of repetition of words and phrases. You say that by repeating these words that Oedipus is revealing the double-consciousness of his fate, which I agree with. For me, the more interesting part of this passage is “Men should not name what men should never do.” Maybe Oedipus is so shameful of what he has done that he feels all men should not talk about things they should never do, because then they might end up coming true. I’m not sure if that is the right meaning of this quote, but it is the way I first thought about it.

~Lindsey

Posted by: linzsmit at October 9, 2006 11:57 AM

Emma,
I believe that your commentary is very insightful and your considerations on the repetition within the passage seem very accurate. I also feel that the roles mentioned in line 1826, directly after the repitition of marriage and seed, is of importance. The fact that individual characters hold dual or even multiple roles (i.e. father and brother) furthers the repitition. Each position and its relation to the other causes severe consequences due to the meaning of the word that lables it. Thus causing Oedipus to want to abandon the use of words and discovery in naming his fate. Your perception of the quote was very meaningful and interesting.

Jenny

Posted by: jennlong at October 9, 2006 04:00 PM

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