Essays on Oedipus The King

Playwright: Sophocles
Genre: Tragedy
Chorus: Theban Elders
Location: Thebes sparknotes.com
Place premiered: Theatre of Dionysus, Athens
Characters: Oedipus, Creon, Antigone, Tiresias, Jocasta, Shepherd

Throughout Sophocles's tragic play, Oedipus Rex, the events of the past prove to be very influential towards the lives of the main characters of the play, specifically Oedipus, the protagonist of the story. Oedipus's past greatly depicts key aspects of his present and help him establish the realization of his true identity, while also contributing to the inescapable quality of a truly devastating prophecy. This prophecy, given to Oedipus by the blind prophet, Teiresias, states that Oedipus would kill his father and marry his mother. In an attempt to prevent the prophecy from happening, Oedipus's parents abandon him at childbirth, leaving Oedipus to believe that his adoptive parents were his biological ones. Thus, after hearing the prophecy, Oedipus also desired to escape his fate by fleeing Corinth (his presumed native land) and going to Thebes, where he inadvertently and unknowingly fulfills the prophecy. The main characters' desires to alter their fates and escape their pasts are the very reasons why the prophecy of the play is fulfilled. Thus, the themes of blindness, self-discovery, and fate are explained in Sophocles' tragic play, Oedipus Rex, through the titular character, Oedipus, who must contend with aspects of his past that detriment his present, such as the murder of his father, his pursuit of the truth, and his acceptance of a tragic and inevitable prophecy.

As early as the first scene of the play, the reader can infer that the protagonist of Oedipus Rex is very confident in who he is as a person and as a king. The reader first sees Oedipus being portrayed as someone whom the people of Thebes hold in high regards because of his intelligence and success in defeating the Sphinx and purging the land of Thebes. Thus, he is held in the highest esteem by his people and is quite confident in his identity, being that he is completely certain that he was born in Corinth and traveled to Thebes in his later age. Yet, Oedipus is also seen as someone who possesses an unrelenting stubbornness that manifests itself in his desire to seek justice on the murderer of Laius, the former king of Thebes. The mystery behind the identity of the killer of Laius serves as the backbone in Oedipus's discovery of the truth, thus revealing Oedipus's blindness and ignorance regarding his past. Therefore, the murder of his father is a key point in the plot of Oedipus Rex that helps develop the theme of blindness, both physical and metaphorical. This is seen when Oedipus states, 'For whoever killed this man may soon enough desire to turn his hand in the same way against me, too, and kill me,' after learning that the reason for the famine in Thebes is because the murderer of Laius was never found, meaning the Laius's death was never avenged (Sophocles 5). In this quote, Oedipus condemns the murderer of Laius to a cruel, yet just fate, without realizing that he is actually cursing himself. This demonstrates how the murder of Laius contributes in revealing the metaphorical blindness that Oedipus possesses due to his lack of knowledge about who he really is and who is biological parents are. The theme of blindness, seen through the unfolding of unknown aspects of Laius's death, is also seen when Teiresias- a blind prophet brought in to reveal the murderer of Laius- states to Oedipus, 'So I say this to you, since you have chosen to insult my blindness- you have your eyesight, and you do not see how miserable you are, or where you live, or who it is who shares your household,' after Oedipus chooses to insult Teiresias's physical blindness (Sophocles 11). This quote demonstrates the metaphorical blindness that Oedipus possesses regarding the true nature of Laius' murder, thus paving the way for Oedipus's past to negatively impact his present, as he comes to eventually learn the truth.

The entirety of Oedipus Rex is centered around the murder of the former king of Thebes, Laius. After hearing of Laius's murder and his killer being the reason for the plague on Thebes, Oedipus's action from that point on are solely motivated by his desire to seek justice for Laius and his city. This aspect of his past helps reveal the theme of self-discovery, a theme that plays a major role in the development of the story. The murder of Laius serves as a key aspect of the plot that leads to a chain of events that occur as a result. Because of the murder of Laius, Oedipus learns some keys aspect of his past that he was previously unaware of, thus contributing to the metaphorical blindness that he maintains for the greater portion of the play.

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We've found 10 essays on Oedipus The King
Essay About Character Oedipus in Oedipus The King

The Greeks believed that man can be portrayed with exaggerated fables that can be taught to people of all ages, young and old. One of these stories tells a tale of a tragic hero known as King Oedipus, he is well known for saving Thebes …

MythsOedipusOedipus The King
Words 1054
Pages 5
The Punishment of Oedipus the King

The Punishment of Oedipus the King At the end of Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex, Oedipus, king of Thebes, ends up banished forever from his kingdom. Additionally, Oedipus physically puts out his own eyes, for several reasons which will be discussed later. The question is: Did Oedipus …

OedipusOedipus The KingPunishment
Words 1172
Pages 5
Oedipus the Everything but King

No Name World Literature 1 Character Analysis “Oedipus the King”… Hunter, Plowman, and Sailor-Helmsman Throughout the play “Oedipus Rex”, the main character Oedipus has a number of different character traits throughout the play. His out-look on the stories situation evolves as he begins to learn …

OedipusOedipus The KingSophoclesTragedy
Words 547
Pages 3
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The Dramatic Irony in Oedipus the King

The Dramatic Irony in Oedipus the King Before taking a closer look on the identity of the protagonist and murderer, and having in mind that Oedipus the King is a very spacious and difficult to analyze play, including opportunities for discussion on quite a few …

IronyOedipusOedipus The KingSophoclesTragedy
Words 1026
Pages 5
Oedipus the King

The ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle once identified the key ingredients of the tragedies that his culture is so famous for. These ingredients include a character with a fatal flaw, the realization of the fault for a particular problem and the final sudden reversal of fortune. …

CreonOedipusOedipus The KingSophoclesTragedy
Words 1154
Pages 5
Oedipus the King by Sophocles

Karina Lazcano Oedipus the King by Sophocles English Literature Anderson Many will argue that fate cannot be escaped in Oedipus the King by Sophocles, where the main character is portrayed as a tragic hero with a predetermined fate. Both the concept of fate and freewill …

AntigoneCreonDestinyOedipus The KingSophocles
Words 1128
Pages 5
A Misconception Punishment of Oedipus King of Thebes

In many plays a character could have a misconception of his or her world. In return this could destroy a major turning point in the story. “Oedipus Rex” by Sophocles is one of such story. At the end of the story Oedipus King of Thebes …

OedipusOedipus The KingPunishment
Words 1182
Pages 5
Oedipus the King: A Theme Analysis

Oedipus the King is one of the group of three plays by Sophocles known as the Theban plays since they all relate to the destinies of the Theban family of the Oedipus and his children.  The other two plays of this group are Antigone and …

OedipusOedipus The King
Words 2949
Pages 12
The Role of Fate in Oedipus the King – Essay Sample

Oedipus the King was written by Sophocles and was is titled Oedipus Rex in Latin. It is one of the most well-known Greek tragedies. As is the case with Greek tragedies—or roughly most tragedies that make their way to stage—fate plays a key role in …

FateOedipusOedipus The King
Words 95
Pages 1
Oedipus the King and Alienation

Alienation is the process of becoming a separate part of the society; this is connected to the social side of life. It leaves one with a feeling of loneliness, which can either be mental or physical. As a result, characters in this instance become alienated …

AliensOedipusOedipus The King
Words 99
Pages 1

FAQ

What is the message of Oedipus?
Oedipus is a great example of pride. Oedipus is full of pride. He thinks he can outsmart gods who have prophesied through the oracles of Delphi that he would kill his father to marry his mother.
What is the story of Oedipus?
Oedipus has fled Corinth and believes he has escaped the terrible prophecy in which he will kill both his father (and marry his mother) by leaving. Oedipus defeats the Sphinx, saves Thebes (7-gated) and marries Jocasta.

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