A Response on the Oedipus the King Essay Example

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  8
Wordcount:  2163 Words
Date:  2022-12-12


'Oedipus the King' is an Athenian tragic play that narrates the story of Oedipus king of Thebes. A terrible curse has befallen Thebes. The king, Oedipus, sends his brother-in-law to consult Apollo. Creon, the brother-in-law, explains to the king that the curse can only be lifted by apprehending the murder of Laius. Laius was the former king who had been murdered several years ago at the crossroads. Oedipus purposes of arresting the murderer. He queries a blind prophet, Tiresias, who informs him that he killed King Laius. Oedipus is perplexed by the news but his wife and the queen, Jocasta, tells him not to worry about the prophet since prophecies have been wrong before (Sheehan 60).

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Jocasta comforts Oedipus using an old prophecy. According to a prediction, she would have a son who would kill Laius and sleep with her. They killed the child and so the prophecy did not come to pass, right? It gets more interesting when Oedipus recalls of an old man telling him that he is adopted and he will slay his father then marry his mother. Has he ever killed someone? Yes, he once killed a man at the crossroads. Oedipus seeks more insight on the issue despite strong warnings given to him by Jocasta. Oedipus questions two witnesses, a messenger, and shepherd, on how he was abandoned and adopted. It is during this time Jocasta realizes Oedipus is her son and still is the person who killed Laius. She commits suicide. Oedipus learns the truth and gouges out his eyes. He is then exiled from Thebes.

A Response on Common Themes

The play establishes the supremacy unwritten laws have on human lives. 'Oedipus the King' explains the critical role fate plays on shaping the destiny of people. First, King Laius and Jocasta attempt to manipulate fate by having their child killed (Sheehan 88). Instead, they abandon Oedipus who ends up been adopted by a new family. Their decision to have the prophesied child killed brings them closer to fulfilling that prophecy. Oedipus kills Laius at the crossroad unaware that the man he has just died is his father.

Another theme that comes outs very strongly is the willingness to ignore the truth. People are fond of ignoring reality. Especially if the truth is bitter and hard to handle. Jocasta constantly urges Oedipus to put out his quench of seeking answers from the past (Sheehan 72). Nonetheless, Oedipus hopes to exonerate himself using the truth. He is sure that the man he had killed was not Laius. Jocasta informs him strangers murdered Laius. However, he killed a man in similar circumstances, but he acted alone. The conditions fuel the entire truth-seeking process. The truth must always come out whether it is solicited or unsolicited.

Free will is limited throughout the play. The courses of action fulfill the prophecy in one way or the other. For instance, Jocasta tries to comfort Oedipus by telling him about the prophecy; the information is supposed to help Oedipus relax (Sheehan 54). He recalls a similar prophecy given to him by an oracle. Jocasta's plan to calm Oedipus using the prediction does not work. Oedipus grows more curious and pursues the truth. Jocasta binds her child's ankle without considering his swollen feet. This is a symbolic act showing the extent to which human nature is limited by fate and free will. The oracular predictions are inevitable. The conflict between individuals and fate is common among Greek tragedies, 'Oedipus the King' is not an exception. The battle between individuals and destiny depicts a great sense of inevitability.

Sophocles successfully applies the theme of guilt and shame all through the play. The literally work begins with a declaration. The declaration is made the oracle at Delphi implying that Thebes is suffering since the person guilty for murdering King Laius is yet to be apprehended. Sophocles now uses remorse by Oedipus to escalate his motif. The writer had other options to bring out the truth about who murdered king Laius. However, he uses an intriguing approach that captures the full attention of the audience. The murderer, unsuspecting of his action, leads the charge. Oedipus is experiencing guilt in an emotional sense. He feels responsible and is determined to capture Laius' killer (Sophocles 370).

The play uses a slightly different approach that utilizes juxtaposition and irony in developing themes of sight and blindness. King Oedipus dedicates himself to solve the mystery of King Laius murder. His dedication can be derived from the point of experience. He became the king by intelligently solving the Sphinx riddle and probably sees the problem as an opportunity to solve another mystery. By so doing, indirectly increase approval and support from subjects. The intentions are fuel by the desire 'to bring into the light.' What Oedipus does not know is that he is blindly walking into his destiny. Oedipus does not find the murder and gets frustrated in the process. He lashes out and curses Laius' killer not know he is cursing himself (Sophocles 284). Again, the write uses irony through the character of Tiresias, the blind prophetess, who provides the truth to Oedipus on who killed the slain king.

There is frequent use of actions and reflections throughout the play. Oedipus becomes the king by methodologically reflecting on the riddle of Sphinx. However, Oedipus applies operations in his quest for the murderer. Why did he not take time to reflect on this issue? He became king by using his intelligence. Oedipus was told of the prophecy during his childhood. If he had reasoned out the problem, then he would have brought the issue to light earlier.

Response Analysis of the Play

The classic play narrates the great tragedy of Oedipus the King. The play takes a detective form filled with suspense and drama. It correctly applies the model of analytic plot structure. The synopsis is discussed in the introductory part of the paper. This section will tackle the plot analysis directly. Oedipus assumes the role of a detective and endeavors to catch the murderer to lift the case that has befallen the city. However, Oedipus is plagued with an ancient prophecy that predicts he will murder his biological father and marry his mother. He tries to evade this fate by fleeing from his home in Corinth (Sophocles 17). The parents who raised Oedipus were adoptive parents. If he had stayed at home in Corinth, nothing would have happened. He takes a step closer to fulfilling the prophecy by fleeing.

Oedipus engages in an altercation with a man at the crossroads (Sheehan 91). He ends up killing him. Later in the play, Oedipus learns that his parents back at Corinth were adaptive. He was rescued by a shepherd from the hillside where his parents had left him for the dead. The parents (Laius and Jocasta) had put a chain through the infant's feet. At the time of rescue, Oedipus feet were swollen. Oedipus is a Greek word for swollen foot. Later truth emerges that, Oedipus slew his father, King Laius, at the crossroads and that Jocasta is the biological mother to Oedipus. The prophecy comes to pass despite efforts to evade it.

The analysis of the play is dependent on the interpretation of the prophecy. Again, the study is complete by disputing or justifying Oedipus culpability. The paper needs to answer questions like; should Oedipus be blamed for what happens in the play? Is he a mere pawn of fate or a causative of events? If the Oedipus' birth parents had not abandoned him, would the prophecy be fulfilled? Most of the predictions are bound with fate. The events are predetermined and can hardly be changed. The play proves there are different ways of achieving a prophecy.

The flow of events is embedded within the prophecy. The actions of the main characters are focused on evading the prediction. However, as Sophocles has it, prophecies are bound with fate, and the predicted outcomes are always predetermined. The literal style has been used by other authors such as David Gemmell in the novel, 'Stormrider: The Rigante Book 4' where the villain Winter Kay is informed that a man with the golden eye will kill him. Winter sets to fight the nemesis (who has one green eye and one golden eye) and fails with each attempt. The nemesis gets tired with Winter's advances on life. He assembles an army that engages in battle with Winter Kay's army. In the end, Winter is killed by one of the soldiers bearing a golden badge which resembles an eye in shape. By trying to avert the prophecy, he fulfills it.

In Oedipus the King, the main characters fulfill the prophecy by trying to avert it (Sophocles 125). First, Oedipus parents receive the prediction and decide to forfend it by killing the child. Jocasta and Laius bond the child's legs and leave him for the dead. Jocasta confesses to Oedipus that, they (together with her slain husband) received a prediction of a son who would kill her husband and marry her. The prophecy never comes to pass since they killed the child. At least that is what she thinks. Jocasta shares this information with Oedipus to see if he will keep off the mission to catch Laius' killer. However, the info startles Oedipus since he had received a similar prophecy and he had killed a man in similar circumstances.

Second, Oedipus fled his home when he heard the prophecy. It is the outward noble decision for a man in a similar situation. Getting away from his mother and father meant that he would not get the chance to kill his father nor marry his mother. Nonetheless, as fate would have it, Oedipus would cross paths with his birth parents later in the play. He is caught in between a confrontation with his father at the crossroad and ends up killing him. Again, he solves the sphinx riddle and assumes leadership. He becomes the king and gets married to the queen.

A Response on Literary Devices in Oedipus the King

Sophocles uses various literary devices to develop his motif. However, before advancing to the literary devices, it is essential to discuss a less appreciated lesson Sophocles tries to pass through deliberately. Laius and Jocasta abandon Oedipus as an innocent infant. At the moment of his birth, he was yet to commit any wrong and never deserved such a punishment. As fate would have it these parents pay for their actions eventually. Again, Oedipus meets with his father at the crossroad. However, his pride contributes to an altercation on the road which escalates to Laius' death. Oedipus would not have killed his father if he was less stubborn. Personal actions and consequences for actions is another theme that complements fate.

Sophocles uses vision and blindness symbolically. The blind prophet sees who killed Laius. The literary device is symbolically used alongside 'vision,' 'blind,' and 'sight.' The device is also used to address the pursuit of knowledge in regards to words such as 'prophecy,' 'truth,' and 'oracle.' Oedipus became king for his insight (Sheehan 72).

The scars on Oedipus feet are symbolic. His name translates to, 'swollen foot.' Oedipus feet were pierced and bound. He survived the incidence, but his feet were left with scars. The scars indicate he is marked for suffering. Oedipus destiny is cursed. It is ironical that Oedipus becomes king for his insights but ignores the wounds on his feet. He could have picked out some hints about his identity if he had sort to understand where he got the scares from.

Oedipus killed his father at the crossroad. Sophocles had plenty of options to pick a venue where the incidence would happen but settled for the intersections. A crossway acts as a crucial point for a voyager. The decision on which path to follow leads to a specific destination. Oedipus makes a fateful decision to kill his father to fulfill part of the prophecy.

A Response on the Riddle of Sphinx

Oedipus encounters a legendary beast, Sphinx, before entering Thebes. The creature has the breast and head of a woman, wings of an eagle, and bod...

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for Essay:

What are the major themes explored in "Oedipus the King"?

This play explores themes such as fate's influence in human lives, our tendencies to deny truthful statements, free will being limited due to guilt and shame motifs and symbolic representation of sight and blindness.

How does the play demonstrate the role of fate in shaping the lives of its characters?

The characters in the play attempt to resist or subvert prophecies that foretell their futures; yet their actions lead them closer towards fulfilling such prophecies, emphasizing fate's predetermined nature.

How has Oedipus' pursuit of truth contributed to the progression of the plot?

Oedipus takes on the role of detective when investigating the murder of King Laius and, through his investigation, uncovers its truth. However, this leads to Oedipus' own tragic discovery and ultimately brings about its resolution.

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A Response on the Oedipus the King Essay Example. (2022, Dec 12). Retrieved from https://proessays.net/essays/a-response-on-the-oedipus-the-king-essay-example

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