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Oedipus Rex Essay

806 words - 3 pages

In Oedipus Rex, Sophocles explores the conflict between a man’s intellectual reasoning and the universe beyond his grasp. This may seem like a generalization, but the play’s minor conflicts are arguably derivatives of the main struggle. As we would see, the fate or destiny that opposes Oedipus does not act directly on him, but creates a domino effect that through other conflicts drive him to face his destiny by unearthing his true identity. Similar to the Sphinx’s riddle that gave power to Oedipus, he must travel the different stages of life in order to “know thy-self” (Rudnytsky 264).
The play opens with what may seem like a trivial conflict between Oedipus and the forces of nature, but the plague and other misfortunes that afflicted Thebes brought the priests and citizens to request help from the king. This is the tipping point that unleashes a quest for the truth that ultimately leads to a confrontation between a man’s will and his destiny. As we would repeatedly see in the tragedy, the partial resolution of a minor conflict brings a new one that has greater implications than the previous one. Oedipus as a man of “intellectual prowess” that solved the great riddle of the Sphinx must save the city from misery and prove to its citizens, once again, that he is capable of dealing with such responsibility (Lewin). He is confronted with a society which only hope to solve its problems was the wisdom they saw in Oedipus. As described by Jennifer Lewin, Oedipus demonstrating his “admirable leadership skills and noble intentions”, had already sent Creon to seek for the god’s will when the priest requested action.
Even though, Oedipus preferred man’s reasoning instead of the god’s advice there were several issues for which he respected the oracle’s word as the rest of the Thebans. Unfortunately for Oedipus, seeking for the oracle was just part of his destiny, and Creon brought a new conflict along with the news. Creon tells that “Apollo commands to take revenge upon whoever killed him [King Laius]”, and Oedipus without any further reasoning proclaims that the murderer must be exile, bringing to himself doom (DiYanni 1310). Nevertheless, is the oracle Teiresias by accusing Oedipus of committing the murder who really sparks the conflict between Oedipus and Creon, the conflict of man versus man. Believing Creon is behind a plot to overthrow him and lacking any concrete evidence, Oedipus fails to his proclaimed intellect and fearing the prophecy could be true, mocks Teiresias for his blindness and charges Creon with treason. When the...

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