What is the significance of the last scene of King Oedipus?
Ans. In a drama, the introductory scene and the concluding scene are important. The former sets the scene, puts forward the problem, and brings in the important characters, the latter brings all the things to a close by way of resolution. It leaves the reader with the final impression about the whole thing, about the solution of a problem, or the fate of a protagonist. The last scene of King Oedipus is important in many respects.
In the last scene both queen Joscata and king Oedipus come to know about the truth they were searching Queen Jocasta learns about it a bit earlier than Oedipus. As soon as she does learn about the truth she withdraws herself from the court, locks herself in her room and hangs herself to death. Immediately afterward, Oedipus comes storming after her with a sword in hand. He breaks down the door and discovers that the queen has already committed suicide He takes her body down and gently places it on the floor Suddenly he removes the gold brooches from her dress and pierces his eyes with their pins. Blood gushes out of his eyes, and he shouts that he will no longer have to look upon his shame The chorus moans in pity Oedipus cnes out in anguish that he wishes he died while still a child. Creon comes, consoles Oedipus, and sends for Atigoneand Ismene, daughters of Oedipus. The girls come in weeping, go to their father. Oedipus blesses them but worries that the world will reject them because of the sins of their father. He also requests Creon to look after them. He tells Creon to banish him from Thebes but Creon says he has to wait till he receives guidance from the oracle. Oedipus moves towards the palace, his arms still round the children. But Creon tells him to leave the children. Oedipus is led away. The chorus chants song moaning about the sad story of Oedipus. –
The last scene brings to the forefront certain facts about the tragedy and its protagonist. The tragic end of Oedipus affects us profoundly because his fall is a fall of an extraordinary man. He has been a great king all through, with great ability to rule his kingdom, and with his strong feeling for the citizen’s welfare, to extract their deep respect for himself He has feelings for his daughters’ welfare, and out of his deep concern for them, requests Creon to look after them. He says he is not so worried about his sons because he believes that they will be able to fend for themselves, and it is the softer sex, the girls that need special care when they are guardianless.
Bernard Knox, commenting on the last scene, says, “… the play ends as it began, with the greatness of the hero.” Now the greatness of Oedipus is a different kind of greatness. He is blind and helpless, but he is now cognisant of the universal order. Like the blind Teiresias he has a more penetrating vision of the reality. The two themes are ultimately reconciled in the last scene the themes of the greatness of the gods and the greatness of man. This reconciliation is tragic, “for the greatness of the gods is most clearly and powerfully demonstrated by man’s defeat. Bernard Knox again says, “Oedipus is symbolic of all human achievement: his hard-won magnificence, unlike the everlasting magniflcence of the divine, cannot last, and while it lives, shines all the more brilliant against the sombre background of its impermanency.” One great man is gone, but there emerges a better world under the leaderhip of another man, Creon, though less able, yet more stable because he is free from the weakness that the greater man had.