Essay on Sophocles’ Oedipus the King

Essay on Sophocles’ Oedipus the King

Sophocles’ King Oedipus is one of the world’s most well-known plays. Aristotle has actually specified Tragedy in his Poetics,”Tragedy, then, is an imitation of a worthy and complete action, having the proper magnitude; it utilizes language that has been creatively boosted …; it exists in remarkable, not narrative type, and accomplishes, through the representation of pitiable and fearful occurrences, the catharsis of such incidents” (Chapter6; Golden11).

He defined Awful Hero as a person of high or noble character who has a flaw or mistake; since of which bad luck fall on him leading to his downfall from high to low position. He recognizes his mistake and leads to catharsis or purgation of pity and worry. King Oedipus is the protagonist, the terrible hero of the play.

He holds a high position in society. He is the ruler of Thebes and enjoyed and respected by his country males. However he has a defect or error of character. His flaw is his lack of knowledge. And in his ignorance, he plays a part in all the events that take place which consequently leads to his downfall.

So from the play it can be presumed that it is fate which played a vital part in his catastrophe or downfall. It holds true that he had free will to do something about it which he did. However It can be well argued that it is destiny which formed his character and motivated him to take decisions and his later actions.

Sophocles’ play King Oedipus is the story of how the lead character without his understanding kills his own daddy Laius, arrives in Thebes, fixes a riddle and saves the people from Sphinx. He becomes the king of Thebes and marries queen Jocasta, his mother. In this method he assists to prove the prediction of Apollo to be true.

Disaster struck him and he fell in to such a low position that it excites pity and fear in us. We feel pity for him because he falls to an extremely low position from his status of a king and a sure of oneself guy and fear due to the fact that we determine ourselves with him.

In the play King Oedipus, we find that it is fate who rules the lives of Jocasta, Laius and Oedipus. From the dialouge of Jocasta, as she expresses her sensations to Oedipus, we find that laius has actually left their kid in the mountains to die when they heard the prophesy of an oracle that (their coming kid will kill his dad and wed his mom).

Jocasta states to Oedipus:” As for the child, it was but three days old, When Laius, its ankles pierced and pinned together, offered it to be cast away by others on the trackless mountain side”, in lines (25-27) Page22. On the other hand, Oedipus, (the kid of Jocasta and Laius) was raised by Polybus and Merope, childless king queen of Corinth.

He was informed by the oracle of Apollo that he would kill his father and wed his mom. He left Corinth, never to return again so that this prophesy does not become a reality as he states to Jocasta:” Give up the sight of all my dearest ones, And never tread again my native earth; Or else to wed my mom and kill my sire, Polybus, who begat me and upreared?”, in lines (20-22) Page25. But in spite of their efforts and actions, the prediction of the oracle comes true. It is his fate or it is the dream of god that King Oedipus need to satisfy his tragic end.

If we evaluate the character of Oedipus, we find that he is an effective personality. He is a firm and popular ruler. Individuals acknowledge not only his political power (which they have provided upon him) however likewise his pre-eminence among humans for knowledge and for dealing with things which they do not comprehend: “Upraise, O chief of guys, upraise our State! Look to thy laurels! for thy zeal of yore Our nation’s rescuer thou art justly hailed: O never ever may we therefore tape-record thy reign:– “He raised us up only to cast us down.” Uplift us, build our city on a rock. Thy delighted star ascendant brought us luck, O let it not decline!” lines (20-224) Page2.

Moreover he has enormous self-esteem and self-assurance. From the very start of the play, we discover that he takes complete obligation for any crisis. He handles the crisis as a personal challenge. Of course the intention behind his taking on the issue is for the advantage of his people. His confidence is also not unjustified.

People trust him since he has acquired their trust. In the past he has actually fixed their problem of the Sphnix with his intellect and in their present crisis, he does not wish to let them down. As the play proceeds, we see that he is all set to resolve the issue at all cost. Even when he realizes that he can be a part in the murder of King Laius, he doesn’t drop in his examination.

We also pertain to the conclusion that he tries to solve the problem in his own terms. He is extremely confident of his capabilities and investigates the issue in his own way. He thinks what is true according to his idea of fact, he is not prepared to accept other’s viewpoint not even Jocasta. This is very much obvious from the quarrel scene between Oedipus and Teiresias.

When Teiresias states to him: “the accursed polluter of this land is you”. He is prepared to refute him and even goes to the level of advising others that it was he who resolved the issue in the past not Teiresias. He responds in this manner with the priest because he is favorable, he is clear to himself that he has actually not played a part in the murder of the king.

When Teiresias states:” Thou the accursed polluter of this land”. Line (16) Page10, Oedipus’s interpretation is clear enough: Teiresias need to be lying, and he must have a secret agenda.

In this respect we can envision him as a Proud or Egoistic individual. However his qualities of self-esteem and self-assurance which leads to his fall also are the qualities that make him the hero of the play. His ability to step in the front and make choices and act to satisfy the crisis are the qualities which helped him to protect the nation from the Sphnix and made him fantastic king who he is. In the end of the play we see that he ultimately discovers the killer of Laius and cleans up the city of afflict.

Looking back in to the play, we find that there is a deep connection between the hero’s complimentary option of action and its inevitable result. We find that Oedipus was complimentary to turn in different direction if he wanted; he was not compelled to take the decisions which he took. Oedipus is doomed from the beginning since he is the sort of person he is.

Someone with an extremely various character would not have actually suffered Oedipus’s life. He would have compromised his sense of liberty in the name of prudence, customized, politics, or survival. So it can be said that it is fate which formed him as the individual he is and obliged him to act which he did and which in the end resulted in his downfall.

His flaw or error as an awful character is his lack of knowledge. He is oblivious that the man he eliminated was his dad, and in his lack of knowledge he marries his mom. He is likewise ignorant of the power of god which is powerfully, complex and hostile. Oedipus who lives life in his own terms and who provides full expression to his free choice, defies the Almighty( goes against the guideline of the universes) culminating in his destruction.

Oedipus defies fate. He makes his own decisions and deals with the repercussions that brings with it. And he stays the same from the starting till completion. At the end of the play we find how he suffers and endures a living death (he blinds himself and ask for his exile) for this reason.

The most memorable function of Oedipus is that he does not flex in face of hardship. When he understands that he has actually committed the criminal offense, he punishes himself and sustains it. He is a terrific character not only because he holds a high position in society but also because in spite of his stubbornness and egoist, he is a good individual who really cares for his topic. He is truly an excellent terrible character who teaches us the power of perseverance.


Dr. Larry A. Brown: Aristotle on Green Catastrophe 8 Feb 2007. 10 Feb 2007.

Ian Jhonston wrote on: Fate, Freedom, and the Awful Experience: An Introductory Lecture on Sophocles’s Oedipus the King. Last modified in August 2004. 8 Feb 2007. 10 Fe b 2007.

Sophocles’ King Oedipus

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