Jungian Archetypes and Oedipus the King Essay

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Jungian Archetypes and Oedipus the King

The play Oedipus the King by Sophocles has multiple examples of collective unconscious archetypes from the theories of Carl G. Jung. In general Jung's theories say that there are archetypes that define the world, its people, and why people participate or commit certain activities. Jung explains that these archetypes are harbored in the collective unconscious of every person's mind. The archetype of the hero is one of them. The middle of Oedipus the King shows the character Oedipus as the Jungian archetypal hero and sacrificial scapegoat.

In order to understand Jung's theory of archetypes, the reader must first have an understanding of the reasoning behind them. Carl G. Jung explains
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Jung's theory also says that often the hero becomes the sacrificial scapegoat for his people or country. The sacrificial scapegoat is defined as a hero who must die for the well being of his country, people, or for the sins of his people in order to save the land (Guerin 163). In addition Jung says that the death of the hero as a sacrificial scapegoat can often be attributed to the hero's hubris, or excessive pride in themselves and their accomplishments (Guerin 168).

Oedipus is an archetypal hero because he follows the quest, and is later the sacrificial scapegoat. His quest is when he leaves his parents, who have raised him, Dorian Merope and Polybus, out of fear of the oracle. Oedipus performs the impossible task of answering the riddle of the sphinx and saves the city of Thebes. His quest ends with him marrying the queen rather than the princess, and becoming the king.

Later Oedipus becomes the sacrificial scapegoat as he discovers his fate. Everyone in Thebes identifies with Oedipus as their hero. Both the human and natural welfare of Thebes is bound by the personal fate of Oedipus (Guerin 168). When Oedipus realizes it is he who killed Laius, he scratches his eyes out, and offers himself as the scapegoat to save the land from the plague. Although Oedipus does not die for the good of his people, his character is sacrificed.

Oedipus slowly discovering the

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