Or, How does, the character of Jocasta appear to you in the drama King Oedipus?
Ans. Jocasta is the wife of Laius, the late king of Thebes. After the death of her husband, Oedipus is made king of Thebes as a reward for his freeing the city of Thebes from the grip of the monster, Sphinx, who threw a riddle to every Theban that passed by her, and devoured him if he could not solve the riddle. Oedipus is also married to the queen of Thebes, Jocasta, nobody knowing the fact that Jocasta was, the mother of Oedipus. When the city is under the scourge of a plague, the Deiphic oracle says that the killer of Laius must be avenged. Oedipus, being a courageous follower of truth, searched for the truth and found out that he himself was the killer of Laius who was his father, and Jocasta was his mother. Jocasta immediately committed suicide.
Jocasta also appears as a tragic figure, along with Oedipus, but she does not show as much courage to face the reality as Oedipus does, so she commits suicide when the truth is revealed.
The Delphic oracle told King L’aius that a son born to Jocasta would kill his own father, and marry his mother. She let her child, when born, be given by Laius over to a servant who was instructed to leave the child, with its ankles riveted, on the mountain to be exposed to the weather and to die there. This she did out of her belief in the oracle, and her regard for her husband. She may appear as cruel, but actually she is not; she behaved cruelly with regard to her own child in order that the child might not commit the crime as prophesied by the oracle.
Ultimately, she could not avert the prophecy happening to her. She became the wife of her own son, though she was totally unaware of the fact that Oedipus was her own son. As a wife she appears to be a loving and affectionate partner. Whenever he seems to be worried, she seeks to assuage his feelings of worries and anxieties. When Oedipus is much concerned about the prophecy coming true in course of the gradual unravelling of the mystery, Jocasta repeatedly assures Oedipus that the prophecies did not come true in the past, nor will they come true in the future. Oedipus should rest undisturbed by the prophecy.
She, by her devotion to Oedipus, could win the love and confidence of Oedipus. When Creon asks. Oedipus, “And she your equal partner in rule and passion?” Oedipus, replies with apparent emotion of love, “All that she can desire is her by right”. Again, when we see that Oedipus is too much exasperated while arguing with Creon, Jocasta interferes, and says to Oedipus, “Come in, my husband; and Creon, you go home. You are making much of some unimportant grievance.” She thereby assuages rage of Oedipus and Creon.
When the Corintian messenger brings the news of Polybus’s death, both Jocasta and Oedipus become happy that the prophecies are going to be falsified. But Oedipus is still suspicious about the half of the prophecy — his marrying hi mother. Jocasta tries to dissuade Oedipus from proceeding further in the enquiry. She says to Oedipus, “Doomed man.! 0 never live to learn the truth”. Here her courage seems to break down; she is afraid to face reality. When she is sure about the identity of Oedipus as her son, she commits suicide.
Jocasta is quite like a queen in her qualities, but she is not courageous as Oedipus. She is quite feminine in this respect. She is drawn on a smaller scale, but she imprints herself on the audience’s mind quite strongly.