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A Short Analysis of Sophocles’ Oedipus the King

An introduction to a classic play

The plot of Sophocles’ great tragedy Oedipus the King (sometimes known as Oedipus Rex or Oedipus Tyrannos) has long been admired. In his Poetics, Aristotle held it up as the exemplary Greek tragedy. Samuel Taylor Coleridge called it one of the three perfect plots in all of literature (the other two being Ben Jonson’s The Alchemist and Henry Fielding’s Tom Jones). Oedipus the King might also be called the first detective story in Western literature. Yet how well do we know Sophocles’ play? And what does a closer analysis of its plot features and themes reveal? Read the rest of this entry

A Short Analysis of Edward Lear’s ‘The Owl and the Pussycat’

A reading of one of nonsense literature’s best-loved poems

‘The Owl and the Pussycat’ is probably Edward Lear’s most famous poem, and a fine example of Victorian nonsense verse. But can one really analyse nonsense literature, or subject it to critical scrutiny? After all, the very name implies that it’s not supposed to make ‘sense’. Yet whenever a poem attains iconic status, it’s worth discussing how it has earned that status.

I

The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea
In a beautiful pea-green boat,
They took some honey, and plenty of money,
Wrapped up in a five-pound note.
The Owl looked up to the stars above,
And sang to a small guitar,
‘O lovely Pussy! O Pussy, my love,
What a beautiful Pussy you are,
You are,
You are!
What a beautiful Pussy you are!’ Read the rest of this entry

A Short Analysis of Thomas Hardy’s ‘I Look into my Glass’

A summary of a popular Hardy poem

‘I Look into my Glass’ was published in Thomas Hardy’s first volume of poetry, Wessex Poems, in 1898. Hardy was then nearly sixty, and the poem reflects his growing awareness of age. The poem is a short one that uses plain language, so perhaps little analysis is needed; nevertheless, below we include the poem and then try to unpick some of its features.

I look into my glass,
And view my wasting skin,
And say, ‘Would God it came to pass
My heart had shrunk as thin!’ Read the rest of this entry