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A King for the People

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Lydia Scarcelli

Mr. Showley

English 12, Period 5

9 September 2015

A King for the People

The speaker of the speech is Oedipus, the king of Thebes. Oedipus stands out in front of the royal palace and is confronted by the citizens of Thebes. The citizens are sorrowful from being struck by famine and death with no evident reason why. A priest comes forward to speak to Oedipus as the voice of the citizens. The priest informs Oedipus of the famine and the citizens suffering and plea for help and answers. Soon Creon, arrives with new word from the Gods, the murder of Laius is in Thebes and must be exiled for the famine to end. Oedipus takes on the task of finding the murder himself. Oedipus explains to the people that he sees what they are going through and has taken on the challenge of finding the guilty murderer and exiling them himself. Oedipus uses strong tone, favorable ethos, and evident pathos to reassure the people that he will find an answer to their problems.

        “I grieve for you, my children. Believe me, I know / All that you desire of me, all that you suffer; / And while you suffer, none suffers more than I.” (27). Oedipus exclaims as the first words of his speech to the people, that he understands their pain and sees their mourning. With a strong word like “grieve” in his speech emphasis his sorrow and mournful tone towards the towns people. Repetition of the word “suffer” emphasis his pain for the citizens, as well as his.  His tone is effective. It shows he cares for his people and they are not alone in this crisis.

        Oedipus’ tone at the beginning of his speech is sorrowful, but as he continues he starts to gain a sense of over confidence. While he waits for Creon to return from speaking to Apollo he explains, “It troubles me / That he is not already here. But when he comes, / Whatever the god requires, upon my honour / It shall be done.” (27).  Oedipus has a sense of overconfidence before Creon even arrives with the news of the killer, that he can do whatever it is that is required by the gods no matter the task.

        Once Creon arrives with the news from Apollo, Oedipus continues his speech with explaining, “I will start afresh; and bring everything into the light” (29). Oedipus is ready to find who is guilty of the murder of Laius and exile them and wants to let all of the citizens know that he will. He continues with saying, “Bring all the people of Cadmus here, and tell them / There is nothing I will not do. Certain it is / That by the help of God we stand – or fail.” (29). This passage strongly shows Oedipus’ overconfident tone. He mentions there is nothing he will not do to help the citizens and fix the problem, which he says very confidently, before he even knows what he has to do.

        From the intended audience’s perspective, the citizens of Thebes, Oedipus is highly qualified to argue his specific assertion of his speech. Oedipus is their king, the people trust, respect, and believes what he says very highly. Oedipus has an even more positive ethos after saving them once before from the phoenix that put their country in danger, and they have confidence in him that he can now save them once again. He makes much effort to establish his qualifications with the intended audience with stating, “All that you desire of me, and all that you suffer; / And while you suffer, none suffers more than I” (27). He states that he suffers more than any of them and wants to solve the problem even more than they do. He has acknowledged and taken much consideration to the audience’s perspective, he understands their suffering. His confident and mourning tone reassure the citizens the good he will be doing for them and helps keep his ethos high.

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