Examining Self Exile in Greek Mythology as a Defense Mechanism Essay

Examining Self Exile in Greek Mythology as a Defense Mechanism Essay

Length: 1600 words (4.6 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Powerful Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

The dichotomy of social and individualistic tendencies is a source of conflict within all humans and throughout history. Psychologically healthy people have desires to be in the company of other people, while in other instances, they want to isolate themselves from the world and look inward. These two inclinations are kept in balance by leading a normal lifestyle without any extreme emotionally stimulation. However, when trauma is suffered in the psyche, this balance can be upset and people may find themselves looking only inward and shutting out the rest of the world completely. This self-imposed exile from humanity is something that the ancient Greeks understood and often explored in their mythology. A common trend in Greek mythology was to use a self-imposed exile as a defense mechanism and form of punishment as seen in the myths of Oedipus Rex by Sophocles and Medea by Euripides.
The myth of Oedipus Rex includes self exile as a way for Oedipus to cope with the fate that he has suffered and worked his whole life to prevent. At the end of the play Oedipus Rex, Oedipus gouges out his own eyes because he realizes that he has fulfilled a prophecy told to him at the beginning the play that he would kill his father and marry his mother. He was so intent on not fulfilling this gruesome prediction that when he was told that the man who he thought was his father had died, he exclaimed:
Ha! Ha! O dear Jocasta, why should one
look to the Pythian hearth? Why should one look
to the birds screaming overhead? They prophesized
that I should kill my father! But he’s dead,
and hidden deep in the ear, and I stand here
who never laid a hand on spear against him,
unless perhaps he died of longing for me,
and thus I am his murderer. But th...


... middle of paper ...


... themselves than they had experienced and in the end, neither achieved anything except for alienation from the rest of their respective worlds.
In both Oedipus Rex, by Sophocles and Medea, by Euripides, the idea of a self-imposed exile is explored in depth. The reason for this motif is because when faced with great hardships and psychological damage like Oedipus and Medea have, the normal human response is to try to introvert and remove one’s self from the world which has caused it problems. This tendency, while a normal psychological defense mechanism, is not healthy because it violates the relationship that all people must have in their actions between individual and social stimulation. Only through attaining a balance between these two states of being can one truly attain healthy emotional stability and happiness, which neither Medea nor Oedipus can ever have.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

A Greek Hero's Exile Essay

- Throughout history in Greek Mythology heroes undergo a journey through exile. The tribulations on exiled characters change their mental or physical attributes thus being able to give aid to his or her community. The reasoning behind why the hero goes through the strenuous process of exile varies. Several tales the hero’s ability to deny exile is possible, but they reject the option. They venture towards the option to better further their renown, thus give to the community which they receive the most respect from....   [tags: Greek Mythology]

Powerful Essays
1617 words (4.6 pages)

Battered Woman Syndrome: Self-Defense Plea Essay

- There are many cases where self- defense has been used as a plea where the victim felt they were in harms’ way or unable to escape a specific situation that ended badly. The definition for self- defense is: 1. Defense of oneself when physically attacked 2. Defense of what belongs to oneself, as ones work or reputation 3. (Law) the right to protect oneself against violence or threatened violence with whatever force or means reasonable or necessary. According to an expert on battered women, a woman must experience at least two complete battering cycles before being labeled a battered woman....   [tags: self defense, women abuse, women rights]

Powerful Essays
1491 words (4.3 pages)

Essay on Oedipus, the King: A Case of Inevitable Fate

- Oedipus, the main character in “Oedipus, the King” has hamartia and frailty that lead to his downfall. Oedipus’s imperfect character traits: pride (hubris), stubbornness, and disrespect precipitate his tragic fate and demise. Oedipus, King of Thebes, is an imperfect protagonist in Sophocles’ “Oedipus, the King.” He is an imperfect human being who makes mistakes in his life. His mistakes, however, are very tragic and exceed what he deserves. He is ignorant about his true identity and does not accept his gods’ prophecy for him....   [tags: Sophocles play, Greek mythology]

Powerful Essays
803 words (2.3 pages)

Summary of Oedipus The Kings by Sophocles Essay

- Summary of Oedipus The Kings by Sophocles Oedipus is in a series of tragic events throughout this play. A couple of days after Oedipus was born, he was left on a mountainside to die. The reason for this is because an oracle predicted that he will grow up to be the murderer of his father the King. Oedipus did not die as he should have, instead Oedipus was found and taken to the nearby city of Corinth. This is where Oedipus was adopted as the son of the King and Queen. Many years later, Oedipus seeks counsel from the same oracle that predicted his fate....   [tags: Greek Tragedy, Oedipus, Sophocles]

Powerful Essays
750 words (2.1 pages)

Oedipus The King By Sophocles Essay

- Throughout the centuries, the play entitled Oedipus the King written by the Poet Sophocles has been thematically understood as a tragedy with the title character prophesied as a pitiful victim of fate or a pawn of the gods, with little or no control over his life. However, some scholarly reviews of this play contend that Oedipus was stereotypical of the individual that chose to pursue the truth to its conclusion with the full knowledge that their choices could either bring great joy or great heartbreak....   [tags: Oedipus, Jocasta, Greek mythology]

Powerful Essays
1352 words (3.9 pages)

Analysis of the Peloponnesian War Essay

- In this essay, I am going to anaylise the Peloponnesian War. I will look at what appears to have caused the war, how it developed, and what the outcome of it was. As Thucydides is virtually the only surviving primary source of this event, I will also discuss the man and his method. From what we can gather, Thucydides was an Athenian Greek born in Alimos in c. 460BC–395BC. Although Thucydides is seen as one of the major figures of the known ancient world, we know relatively little about the man and his life....   [tags: Thucydides, Athenian Greek, exile]

Powerful Essays
1502 words (4.3 pages)

Exile From Self Essay

- Love exiles the heart from the being, sometimes begrudgingly, and at other times in the full light of day. It’s masterful in a myriad of ways; transfixing, then transforming the lover, completely removing them from anything previously palpable and familiar. Bewitchingly, love alters the conscience and authors its decisions. It is the facilitator of exile from oneself, and is brilliantly woven into the lives of the characters in D.H. Lawrence’s Odour of Chrysanthemums and Carlos Fuentes’s Aura; albeit sometimes in antagonistic ways....   [tags: Literary Analysis]

Powerful Essays
1629 words (4.7 pages)

Essay about The Defense Mechanism

- Defense mechanism, in psychoanalysis, any of a variety of unconscious personality reactions which the ego uses to protect the conscious mind from threatening feelings and perceptions. Sigmund Freud first used defense as a psychoanalytic term (1894), but he did not break the notion into categories, viewing it as a singular phenomenon of repression. His daughter, Anna Freud, expanded on his theories in the 1930s, distinguishing some of the major defense mechanisms recognized today. Primary defense mechanisms include repression and denial, which serve to prevent unacceptable ideas or impulses from entering the conscience....   [tags: Defense Mechanisms]

Powerful Essays
3474 words (9.9 pages)

Essay about Exile

- The poem “Exile” by Julia Alvarez dramatizes the conflicts of a young girl’s family’s escape from an oppressive dictatorship in the Dominican Republic to the freedom of the United States. The setting of this poem starts in the city of Trujillo in the Dominican Republic, which was renamed for the brutal dictator Rafael Trujillo; however, it eventually changes to New York when the family succeeds to escape. The speaker is a young girl who is unsophisticated to the world; therefore, she does not know what is happening to her family, even though she surmises that something is wrong....   [tags: Literary Analysis, Julia Alvarez]

Free Essays
658 words (1.9 pages)

Exile Essay

- Controversy of the Exile After reading 2 Kings 25 and the two articles, the main source of contrast between these two sourcs is the amount of detail they go into on different aspects of the Exile. The Biblical reading mentions King Nebuchadnezzar and his capture of King Zedekiah, the efforts of General Nebuzaradan and his detailed destruction and pillaging of Jerusalem and the Temple, the capturing and execution of Judah’s chief officers and priests, Judah’s revolt against Gedaliah and fleeing to Egypt, and the benevolence King Evil-merodach of Babylon demonstrated towards Jehoiachin....   [tags: essays research papers]

Free Essays
1797 words (5.1 pages)