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The Oedipus Plays of SophoclesPhilosophical Perspectives$
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Paul Woodruff

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190669447

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190669447.001.0001

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Truth and Self at Colonus

Truth and Self at Colonus

(p.183) Chapter 7 Truth and Self at Colonus
The Oedipus Plays of Sophocles

Grace Ledbetter

Oxford University Press

This chapter argues that, in addition to becoming more powerful and confident as Oedipus at Colonus progresses, Oedipus undergoes an internal process of defining what he views as true about himself and the world. Throughout the play, Oedipus gradually articulates and defends his discovery of himself as a complex and differentiated subject that overcomes the psychological challenges posed by his traumatic past. These challenges include the threats of enduring guilt, shame, alienation, purposelessness, fear of annihilation, and lack of aspiration. The end of the play finds Oedipus a hero in a hard-won state of psychic health, newly absolved and the benefactor of his own rational self-insight and imagination. All in all, the figure and characteristic activity of Oedipus while he is in Colonus can be said to express a therapeutic process that centers on Oedipus’s establishing a complex but ordered picture of his various images of truth and reality.

Keywords:   Oedipus, psychoanalysis, self-knowledge, Shlomit Yadlin-Gadot, father, hero, guilt, shame, alienation, trauma

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