Monday
December 22, 2014

Homework Help: Lit 210

Posted by Mary on Monday, May 23, 2011 at 10:19pm.

I need help comparing Oedipus Rex and A Raisin in the Sun. This is my outline so far. Please help. I am stuck and could use any advice. Thank you

Comparing and Contrasting Oedipus Rex and A Raisin in the Sun

The Oedipus Rex was written around 430 B. C in Athens, Greece by Sophocles. A Raisin in the Sun was written in the 1950’s in New York by Lorraine Hansberry. The two plays were written over two thousand years apart and extremely diverse cultures yet there are similarities.

I. In this essay, I will compare and contrast the two plays Oedipus Rex and A Raisin in the Sun. I will compare and contrast the themes, writing styles, and the use of literary devices and conventions.
II. Comparing and contrasting the themes of Oedipus Rex and A Raisin in the Sun
A. Compare
B. The theme of Oedipus Rex is Oedipus cannot run from his own fate. The prophecies say he will murder his father and sleep with his mother. Oedipus seems only to desire to flee his fate, but his fate continually catches up with him (SparkNotes Editors, 2002).
When Oedipus and Iocastê begin to get close to the truth of the murder of Laius they don’t want to accept the truth. Neither can face the possibility of what it would mean if the servant were wrong. This is perhaps why Iocastê feels she can tell Oedipus of the prophecy that her son would kill his father, and Oedipus can tell her about the similar prophecy given him by an oracle, and neither feels compelled to remark on the coincidence; or why Oedipus can hear the story of Iocastê binding her child’s ankles and not think of his own swollen feet (SparkNotes Editors, 2002). Oedipus is famed for his clear-sightedness and quick comprehension, but he discovers that he has been blind to the truth for many years, and then he blinds himself so as not to have to look on his own children/siblings (SparkNotes Editors, 2002). Tiresias, the blind prophet can see the future. Oedipus was left in the mountains with his ankles pinned together when we was a baby. His swollen foot symbolizes that he has been constrained since birth. His scar symbolizes that fate has marked him and he cannot run from fate. When Oedipus was younger he fled Corinth and came to a three- way crossroads where he murders Laius and his men. The crossroads are a place that choice must be made. The crossroads symbolizes his fate, choice, and his past.
In A Raisin in the Sun, every character has their dreams. The family struggles to attain their dreams throughout the play. At the end of the play they learn the house will unite them. Mama has also taught her children to have values and to dream. Walter dreams of being able to provide for his family. Mama dreams of owning a house. Ruth dreams of being in a house big enough for Travis to have his own room and a backyard to play in. Beneatha dreams of being a doctor. They fight racial discrimination when Mr. Lindner comes to their apartment and offers them a bribe not to move into the house. The play powerfully demonstrates that the way to deal with discrimination is to stand up to it and reassert one’s dignity in the face of it rather than allow it to pass unchecked (SparkNotes Editors, 2002). The Younger’s struggle socially and economically throughout the play but unite in the end to realize their dream of buying a house (SparkNotes Editors, 2002). Mama strongly believes in the importance of family and tries to teach her values to the family while trying to keep them all together. The family is put through many struggles and learns to come together and merge their dream.



III. Comparing and contrasting the writing styles of both authors
A. Compare
B. In Oedipus Rex the writing style is formal diction. The character speak intelligently and formal. The play is tragic irony because Oedipus searches for the person responsible for the plague that is destroying his city and ironically ends up hunting himself. There are many tones used in the play. Oedipus is confident, strong, and optimistic at the beginning. When he speaks to Teiresias he gets angry. He eventually calms down until he finds out his past, then he is horrified. When he sees Iocastê dead body he becomes heartbroken along with many more emotions and gouges out his eyes. This play was written from a narrator perspective except for when the characters have monologues and interact with one another. This play is a drama with many twists.
The writing style in A Raisin in the Sun is informal diction. The characters speak slang and have a casual dialogue. The play uses dramatic irony because every member wants to use the insurance money in his or her own way. The tone of the play is calm mostly throughout the play. It is told by the narrator except for when the characters have monologues and interact with one another. The play is a drama because there are many conflicts.

IV. Comparing and contrasting the uses of literary devices and conventions
A. Compare
B. In Oedipus Rex, the main characters speak monologues and the chorus chants their lines. Sophocles used characterization to portray Oedipus as the tragic hero. The tragic hero is the one that faces the most difficult challenges. Sophocles uses flash backs to help the audience or reader switch from present to the past events. One example is when Oedipus remembers what he heard from the drunken man, who told him he is not the son of Polybus.
In A Raisin in the Sun, the main characters speak monologues. Willy Harris is the man who ran off with the family’s left over insurance money. Willy never appears onstage which helps the family keep the attention. Lorraine uses characterization to give the characters life and meaning.


V. With thousands of years apart and extremely diverse cultures, Oedipus Rex and A Raisin in the Sun utilize many of the same themes, writing styles, and the use of literary devices and conventions. Due to the format with which each author was able to deliver his or her drama, focus on the use of these devices are different. In the end it takes plot, characterization, and dialog to provide the foundation of any piece of work regardless of the time in which it was written. Sophocles and Lorraine Hansberry are to be commended for their masterful structure found within their dramas.

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