Oedipus the King, a greek tragedy, is the story of a man's struggle against his fate.
The author Sophocles, uses many different themes and contrasts in his writing. The most
obvious theme being irony.
An oracle was given by the priests of Apollo, that a son of King Laius and Queen
Jocasta would murder Laius and marry Jocasta. Oedipus was taken as an infant, left to
die, but was rescued by a shepard and his wife. Oedipus grows up, not knowing his true
identity and fulfills the prophecy. After unknowingly killing King Laius during a chance
encounter, Oedipus travels to the city of Thebes, where he solves the great riddle of Sphinx
that no one else could solve. The people of Thebes were so overjoyed to be free from the
Sphinx that they made Oedipus their new king. He then marries Queen Jocasta, fulfilling the
final portion of the prophecy.
The story begins with a priest coming to King Oedipus with grave details of the city of ...view middle of the document...
Oedipus also says that he
feels an obligation to the murdered man, which ironically was his own father. He even
states "So I shall fight for him, as if he were my own father." He then unknowingly proceeds
to call down a curse upon himself. He says, "As for the murderer himself, I call down a
curse on him, whether that unknown figure be one man or one among many. May he drag
out an evil death-in-life in misery." Oedipus goes on to chastise the people for not solving
the murder. He assures them, as King, that the murder will be solved and the murderer will
be brought to justice. He further calls down the very curses that the people are concerned
about upon himself and the nation, saying "...I call down this curse in the gods' name: let no
crop grow out of the earth for them, their wives bear no children. Rather let them be
destroyed by the present plague or something even worse." His final statement, "May
justice be our ally and all the gods be with us forever!," shows his complete and utter
ignorance of the true identity of the murderer of King Liaus, himself. Oedipus does not
realize that he is headed towards destruction by the very words of his mouth. He exhibits a
passion to find the murderer and this relentless pursuit will culminate in him being revealed
as the murderer. He offers to show mercy to those involved, but ultimately it is he that will
need the mercy. The greatest irony is the entire speech itself. Oedipus meant the speech to
be honest, upright, and just, but unknown to him every word is the complete opposite. This
shows Oedipus, the man desiring to do the right thing, but completely helpless against his
Oedipus pursues the "murderer" relentlessly, and slowly beings to realize the horrible
truth of his identity. Queen Jocasta begs him to stop his search, but he vows to keep his
promise and find the killer no matter what the cost. He calls in the soul surviving witness to
the murder, and he also calls the shepard who found him abandoned as an infant. As he
questions them he is angered, but the pieces begin to fall into place.
Finally realizing the truth, Oedipus is devastated. He goes to confront Queen Jocasta
only to find that she has hanged herself. He then takes two pins from her clothes and
gouges his own eyes out.