Fate And Ignorance In Oedipus Rex

2570 words - 10 pages


     Oedipus Rex is a story that can be interpreted on many different levels of thinking. The ancient tale has existed for centuries and has been subjected to countless forms of analysis. What is it that makes Oedipus the King such a fascinating story? Is it the suspense of a developing mystery that captivates the audience? Or perhaps the wonderful feeling the readers get after vicariously experiencing the horror Oedipus feels? And if not that, could it be that the reader is intrigued at Sophocles' description of one man's disbelief in the gods? Whichever way one looks at it, Oedipus Tyrannus was, and remains, one of the "most highly admired plays of all time" (Wood, et al, 163).

One way of interpreting this story is by looking at it as if it were a detective story. When initially reading the play, one can see that the whole plot is focused around Oedipus' search for the truth. On a more specific level, "Oedipus Rex involves a hero trying to clarify a situation involving a murder" (Shaw, 78). It's easy to think of him as a sort of Sherlock Holmes, focused on the ever-present knowledge that there is a murderer out there. Vincent Badger describes Oedipus Rex as "a mystery play. Showing to the characters on the stage the inexorable unfolding of a truth we knew from the beginning." (Badger, 1). From the very start you know that Oedipus is a supposedly good detective, as he had solved the riddle of the Sphinx years before the play takes place (Daniels and Scully, 17). However, knowing this, one would expect Oedipus to realize that there are many questions that he has failed to answer. For example, such obvious things as "Where did the scars on my ankles come from?" or, "Am I marrying my mother?" (Daniels and Scully, 25). These were simple things that he could have looked into. Had he done some simple investigation he would have learned the truth long before the events of the play took place.

A possible reason for his ignorance, and a fascinating twist, could be that Oedipus had originally believed that he was the murderer of Laius, and knew at the time of the story, that he had married his own mother (Daniels and Scully, 26). All the public cursing, the whole "Now my curse on the murderer" (Sophocles, 172) was really a spectacle to throw the suspicion off himself (Daniels and Scully, 26). However, most literary scholars don't believe this, as Oedipus does seem to display a great deal of remorse when he realizes that the prophecies about him are true. If it is all a setup by Oedipus, then he is both extraordinarily intelligent and stupid, by hiding the truth for so long and being self destructive at the same time (Daniels and Scully, 26). Most believe that "Oedipus has simply chosen to ignore a real possibility" (Daniels and Scully, 21). Howard Clarke said that "[Oedipus] reaches a point where he is, literally, the captive of what he is searching for." (Clarke, 593). He reached a "point in his search where he is carried along on the tide of...

Find Another Essay On Fate and Ignorance in Oedipus Rex

Oedipus Rex and Antigone: Fate Leads to Tragedy - Abbey Park english - essay

1092 words - 5 pages Lee 1 William Lee Klokoff ENG4U1 January 10, 2017 Fate Will Never Relinquish Its Hold On Tragedy: Oedipus The King and Antigone People possess the will to make their own choices and make decisions throughout their daily life; however, no matter what choices we make the outcomes will remain the same. People make whatever decisions they want, but the decisions will take them to the same predetermined fate. In the plays Oedipus The King and

Oedipus Rex by Sophocles - Fate vs. Free Will

559 words - 2 pages The Greek tragedy Oedipus Rex, by Sophocles, was written to show the common people of Greece how powerful the gods are and that your fate is pre-determined and nothing you do can change that. According to some, all people are slaves to fate, especially the fate of Oedipus. He does this by showing how people in this story try to escape their fate and how it is no use because in the end, what the oracles predict comes true. In the story there are

Oedipus Rex, by Sophocles: Fate over Free Will

1126 words - 5 pages Whether “fate” or “free will” is in control of our lives has always been a highly questionable controversy—even today. Many of those with religious views believe there is a higher power that has a predestined plan for each one of us and our life is not in our own hands at all. If we knew our fate, do we have the power of free will to change our future? In the play, Oedipus, fate becomes the determining factor of Oedipus’s life and

The Illusion of Man- Is an essay written to explain how Oedipus contributed to his own fate with his ignorance and character flaws

1013 words - 4 pages The Illusion of ManMany Greek tragedies depict man as being foolish and refusing to face the truth head on. Instead, he creates a reality to suit his own needs, thereby perpetuating an illusion of happiness. The main character in Oedipus Rex, Oedipus, represents a man who must come to terms with his identity, even if other factors created this persona. Oedipus is the classic hero, equipped with all the human frailties, who attempts to escape the

Sight and Blindness in Oedipus Rex

759 words - 3 pages Sight and Blindness in Oedipus Rex Oedipus Rex is a play about the way we blind ourselves to painful truths that we can’t bear to see. Physical sight and blindness are used throughout the play, often ironically, as a metaphor for mental sight and blindness. The play ends with the hero Oedipus literally blinding himself to avoid seeing the result of his terrible fate. But as the play demonstrates, Oedipus, the man who killed his father

Pride And Determination In Oedipus Rex

625 words - 3 pages A man has many defining characteristics - some positive and some negative. At times, a potentially positive characteristic may cause his eventual downfall. This concept can be directly related to the story Oedipus Rex. Aristotle stated, ?the tragic hero falls into bad fortune because of some flaw in his character of the kind found in men of high reputation and good fortune such as Oedipus.? Essentially, he is telling us that Oedipus has a flaw

Oedipus Complex in Oedipus Rex

1033 words - 4 pages real parents are, it is prophesized that Oedipus is destined to kill his father and marry his mother; the same fantasy young boys have as a result of the "Oedipus Complex." Because he has had these feelings in the past, and has felt guilt and fear over it, he is repulsed by the thought of it and leaves Corinth and ends up in Thebes. There, he kills his real father and marries his own mother out of ignorance to whom they were. When he finds out he

Oedipus: The Tragic Hero in Oedipus Rex and Antigone

1047 words - 4 pages An Aristotelian Tragic Hero is characterized by seven different aspects; the tragic hero must have noble stature, be good but not perfect, have an error in judgment, have a downfall, go through catharsis, their punishment must exceed crime, and the audience must feel fear and pity for the character. The two plays Oedipus Rex and Antigone by Sophocles show the qualities of a tragic hero according to Aristotle using Oedipus and partially Antigone

Characters in Oedipus Rex

651 words - 3 pages The classic, Oedipus Rex by Homer, has been labeled a classic for a reason. The story has a brilliantly written plot with zero flaws in its planning. Because of its lack of flaws, the story has zero holes or mistakes to be pondered upon. The story owes its brilliance to its characters. The characters within Homer’s Oedipus Rex carry massive amounts of symbolism and are very well thought through. King Oedipus, the king of thebes as well as the

Mythology in Oedipus Rex

4184 words - 17 pages Mythology in Oedipus Rex           E. T. Owen in “Drama in Sophocles’ Oedipus Tyrannus” comments on the mythological beginnings of Oedipus Rex:   Professor Goodell says: “Given an old myth to be dramatized, Sophocles’ primary question was, ‘Just what sort of people were they, must they have been, who naturally did and suffered what the tales say they did and suffered?” That was his method of analysis (38).   The Greek

Morality in Oedipus Rex

1701 words - 7 pages Apollo’s oracle at Delphi in the hopes of gaining insight into his own identity. This act of seeking out answers is completely Oedipus’s choice. It is not chance governed by fate and his decision is the foundation for the gripping tragedy that will consume him (Harris and Platzner, Classical Mythology: Images and Insights, p.649). The news the oracle delivers to Oedipus is catastrophic. He is told that he will “wed [his] mother” and “kill the father

Similar Essays

Fate And The Circunstancial Downfall Of Character In Oedipus Rex

698 words - 3 pages Circumstantial Downfall Fate and the circumstantial downfall of characters (usually surrounding the protagonist) is a reoccurring theme seen throughout the Eras of theatre (specifically between the plays Oedipus Rex [Greek Theatre] and King Lear [Elizabethan Thatre.]) Fate and falling victim to circumstance is one of the same; fate is just a predetermination made by a higher being (gods,) while circumstance is almost always the result of

The Role Of Fate In Oedipus Rex

785 words - 4 pages Fate plays a very important role in Oedipus Rex as it is clearly inescapable and is not subject to change by free will, or even the will of the Gods. We learn of the prophecy given to Laius and Jocasta that their son will kill his father and marry his mother. Upon the birth of Oedipus, Laius and Jocasta send for a shepherd to come and take him away to be killed so that the prophecy cannot be fulfilled. Throughout the story we are continually

Fate Vs Free Will In Sophocles´ Oedipus Rex And Shakespeare´S Macbeth

1854 words - 8 pages Fate and free will are two topics that are often questionable because they go hand in hand. Fate is a belief that a certain event is said to happen, then that person's choice and free will lead them to what has been predicted as inevitable. Knowing whether something is fate’s fault or the fault of the person who’s going to enact the said action, is one question that has never been fully answered. In Sophocles' Oedipus Rex and Shakespeare's

Role Of Fate In Oedipus Rex By Homer

878 words - 4 pages For the past millennia, many famous philosophers and writers have pondered upon the mysterious subject of destiny and fate. In Sophocles' Oedipus Rex, Oedipus is fated by the oracle of Apollo to murder his father and marry his mother. The story climaxes as Oedipus learns that a man he kills is in fact his father, and that the same woman he sleeps and rules Thebes with, is actually his mother. In the book, Oedipus and other characters attempt to