The Return of the (Prodigal) Son in Rita Dove’s and Luis Alfaro’s Adaptations of "Oedipus the King"

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Ludmila Martanovschi


The current essay analyzes two adaptations of Sophocles’ Oedipus the King: Rita Dove’s The Darker Face of the Earth and Luis Alfaro’s Oedipus El Rey, focusing on the hero’s banishment from his original home and on his return, which enables him to obtain the inheritance and power that would have been his birthrights. Attention is also paid to Oedipus as the emblematic truth-seeker who wants to access knowledge at all costs. In navigating the wealth of sources on the adaptation of Greek tragedy for the American stage, the objective is to identify insights relevant for Dove and Alfaro, whose African American and Chicanx backgrounds influence their rewritings of the famous play. It is the conclusion of the study that the two artists successfully address urgent political issues for contemporary American society: the need to remember the injustices at the heart of its historical race-based slavery system and the need to empower underprivileged youths so that their lives wouldn’t be destroyed by incarceration in the US prison system.

Article Details

How to Cite
Martanovschi, L. “The Return of the (Prodigal) Son in Rita Dove’s and Luis Alfaro’s Adaptations of ‘Oedipus the King’”. Linguaculture, vol. 12, no. 1, June 2021, pp. 33-46, doi:10.47743/lincu-2021-1-0185.
Author Biography

Ludmila Martanovschi, Ovidius University, Constanta, Romania

LUDMILA MARTANOVSCHI is Associate Professor at the Faculty of Letters, Ovidius University, Constanta, Romania. Her areas of expertise include Multi-Ethnic Literatures and Contemporary American Drama. Her research as a Fulbright grantee at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (2003-2004) and at the Graduate Center, City University of New York (2011) led to the publication of two book-length studies: Decolonizing the Self: Memory, Language and Cultural Experience in Contemporary American Indian Poetry (2009) and Family Ties: An Introduction to Postwar American Drama (2012). She has contributed to various collections of essays and journals in Romania and abroad. Ethnicity and Gender Debates: Cross-Readings of American Literature and Culture in the New Millennium, a volume co-edited with Tatiani G. Rapatzikou, was released by Peter Lang Publishing in 2020. She has served as the Secretary of the Society for Multi-Ethnic Studies: Europe and the Americas (MESEA) since 2016.


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