Jocasta urges Oedipus not to look into the past any further, but he stubbornly ignores her. Oedipus goes on to question a messenger and a shepherd, both of whom have information about how Oedipus was abandoned as an infant and adopted by a new family. In a moment of insight, Jocasta realizes that she is Oedipus’s mother and that Laius was his father. Horrified at what has happened, she kills herself. Shortly thereafter, Oedipus, too, realizes that he was Laius’s murderer and that he’s been married to (and having children with) his mother. In horror and despair, he gouges his eyes out and is exiled from Thebes.
But why ? Is it because of the shock value of doing battle within your own family? Is it because the family can be viewed as the world in miniature? Is it because we think of people who control the fates of entire cities (like, say, Thebes) as being so powerful that we want to watch them powerlessly fighting their own flesh and blood? Is it because familial love is such a weird and often frustrating thing—hello, family Thanksgiving—that we want the catharsis of seeing someone actually battle their parents? Is it because, deep inside, we're all angsty thirteen-year-olds who just want to stay out until midnight Mom, please ?