The Story of Oedipus in Egyptian Theatre: A Tragedy and a Comedy


The Oedipus myth more than any Greek legend has inspired several leading Arab playwrights and authors who used the Oedipus myth as a source text for their plays, among which are two prominent Egyptian playwrights and authors: Tawfik Al-Hakim (1898-1987), one of the founders of the modern Arab theatre, and Ali Salem (1936-2015), a realistic comic playwright known for his sarcasm and social criticism. He played an important role in moving the modern Egyptian theatre in a comedic direction. The present paper is an in-depth analysis of the presentation of the Greek myth of Oedipus on the Egyptian theatre. In his play King Oedipus, Tawfik Al-Hakim is concerned with the discord between reality and truth. His aim is to deliver his message that man can become a hero only by his human virtues.On the other hand, Ali Salem’s play The Comedy of Oedipus: You are the One who Killed the Beast is a political satire that depicts the myth of Oedipus from a different perspective. The play departs from the tragic portrayal of the Greek myth of Oedipus. Salem sets his play in the Egyptian rather than the Greek Thebes. He successfully delivers a message about the impact of fear on the freedom of expression in different societies. Salem aims at reviving the belief and pride in man in general within the limits of a human being not a god.

Keywords: Comedy, Egyptian theatre: tragedy, Oedipus

Article Review Status: Published

Pages: 15-23 (Download PDF)

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