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Sophocles’  “Oedipus” is a renowned tragedy which hasn’t lost its bite even to this day. It has multiple alternate titles including “Oedipus the King” and “Oedipus Tyrannous”. In the play Oedipus, king of Thebes, heard that his city is in distress and discord via a fire and disease. He sends his brother-in-law Creon to find a remedy from the oracle of Apollo at Delphi. When Creon returns Oedipus begins to search for answers of the death of Laius, his precursor to the throne, and discovers through various accounts that he himself was the one who had unknowingly killed Laius and then wed his own mother, Jocasta. In reaction to this news, Oedipus is mortified to the fullest extreme – mutilating his eyes, and leaving the court. Jocasta commits suicide, and the tragedy takes its full course. Sigmund Freud, a renowned father of modern psychology, cerebrates this, as in his view his psychoanalysis illuminated the relevancy and power of the play, rather than the other way around. Sophocles is able to reflect the edifications of psychoanalysis in “Oedipus”.         Freud’s Oedipus Complex is very consequential in Sophocles’  “Oedipus” for giving a psychoanalytical reading on it. The Oedipus complex was his theory of mind, and as such he asserted that present day mental illnesses were related to this complex. The Oedipus complex is predicated on Freud’s observation that children are seen commonly to have fallen in love with one parent and developed an abhorrence for the other. According to Freud, Oedipus complex represents the core of a mental neuroticism. He also asserts that universally every individual passes through a stage in which he or she unconsciously wants, with an implicit sexual basis, the parent of the opposite gender. Typically later Freudian psychoanalysis posits that the young men have castration anxiety as a consequence of this inner conflict and harbor apprehensions about it.          Traditionally the boy’s psyche attempts to resolve this conflict – the result is an identification with the father, and the super ego is formed thusly. It can also be postulated that the super ego forms a bridge between id and ego. In identifying with the father, he attempts to regulate the workings of moral choice: the id is restricted to honor the imagined fatherly morals, and the ego is encouraged to exemplify moral integrity. This balancing act is delicate, especially at such a young age. According to Freud the myth of Oedipus is a template that expounds the developmental processes that all children undergo. Truly, myths are an important component of our psyches in modern lives today, existing in our media and popular culture. Psychoanalytic reprehension is a structure of literary “diagnosis” which utilizes some of the techniques of psychoanalysis in the interpretation of literature.            The Oedipus complex is seen as a symbolic representation of the divorce from the child and his connection to the mother. This castration, a separation of a boy from his nurturing oasis, is forced to live in the desert of independent reality. This causes the psychological defense mechanisms to kick in, resulting in such origins of machismo, like independence and solitude, when really, the boy is fighting to repress helplessness. Boundaries between subject and object need to be loosened, not tightened, sanctioning for more identification with mother.  Sophocles’  “Oedipus” is a play full of high majesty in which a man is entwined in a fall of his own making. Freud takes the designation of his complex ‘Oedipus’ because he supposed that the Oedipus myth bears witness to the universal prevalence of this Oedipal Complex.  Freud sees in Sophocles’ “Oedipus” the evidence of a trans-historical psychic condition – a gravely inflated apophenia which bears the appearance of hard science. Nevertheless, Freud says is his essay “The Oedipus Complex”, “The Attic poet’s work portrays the gradual discovery of the deed of Oedipus, long since accomplished, and brings it slowly to light by skillfully prolonged enquiry, constantly fed by new evidence ; it has thus certain resemblance to the course of a psychoanalysis.” Freud utilizes the story of Oedipus as the paradigm for his psychoanalytic theory of male infantile desire. But there are doubts about the protagonist of the play. Whether Oedipus himself, as portrayed in the play, did suffer from the neurosis or not has been a debatable issue. There is no way to discern in the play that Oedipus has any erotic feelings directed towards his supposed mother, Merope. Even he does not meet his authentic mother, Jocasta, afore the age of eighteen. Nowhere in the play have we encountered any conscious desire in Oedipus to kill his father, only a dream as evidence. Jocasta expresses: “How oft it chances that in dreams a manHas wed his mother!He who least regardsSuch brainsick fantasies lives most at ease.” Sophocles and Freud gives Oedipus a macrocosmic dimension, which is applicable to all epochs and to all men. Oedipus fights against himself and he cannot acquire victory. He represents the tragedy of a man’s encounter with his own truth. But psychoanalytically in his search of truth about himself, Oedipus leads to the disgrace that the gods reserved for him, yet develops the way a better self-consciousness and asserts his individuality. So far there is tendered psychoanalytical approach to literature, or what is called the classical psychoanalytic theory. But there is withal non- traditional psychoanalytic kineticism that has come up with the works of French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan. Though the Oedipus Complex is as consequential for Lacan as it is for Freud, the difference is that Lacan maps that complex’s syntax on the acquisition of language, which he perceives as analogous to developmental acquisition of objects.  Through the Oedipus complex is our way of perceiving the need to comply with accepted structures and to follow a closed differential system of language rather than biological system. In this linguistic rather than biological system, the phallus which always must not be taken to mean the ‘penis’, comes to stand: the place of everything, what Lacan terms the ‘symbolic father’. The “Mirror Stage” of Lacan’s theories can be applied in discussing Oedipus. According to Lacan, in language, there are ‘infinite desires’ that cannot be satiated, much like the desires of the unconscious that cannot be satisfied. His regard for this fact is certainly powerful, especially given that he considers Humanity to have been built upon words. He is a philologist as much as a psychologist, and for that, he considers a breach in clear wording to be equitable to insanity.  The ambiguity about Oedipus’s own understanding of his situation is infinitely telling of the actual mental games going on in his life. Utilizing ambiguity as an interpretative implement, this can ground the actions of Oedipus’s undoing into the mental complex he bears. However, Oedipus not knowing of his true parents seems to confound the notion that the unconscious could be responsible for his actions, for he would bear the infatuation to his adoptive mother and the aggression to his adoptive father. Lacan’s attachment to language would likely have him reeling at the idea that Oedipus could possibly have been aware of his true parents, for he had no actual memory of them at all – and the only reference to them was in words about his adoptive parents!              In examining  “Oedipus”, we seem to receive an insight that psychoanalysis has ignored to the letter; simultaneously disenchanting the world and hoping that initiation can be achieved, but seriously missing the mark. While ostensibly an individual practice – some critics would express as a solipsistic one – psychoanalysis is nonetheless communal; a minute community of two, to be sure, but a community nonetheless. Like Oedipus, Freud analyzed himself.

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            If the story of Oedipus remains beholden to psychoanalysis, and in turn our modern understanding of the mind, it seems to have been for Freud – a paradigmatic story, a prophetic myth – it dooms analysis to tragedy. The cost of the self-cognizance that is sought psychoanalysis. Oedipus is analogous to the Freudian demand to make the insensate conscious, the irrational rational.  And thus, we find that the Oedipus complex can exemplify a certain psyche’s mechanics, but not all, as it would be a mistake to universify an intrinsically singular psychic meaning.

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