Oedipus Rex Essay
The name “Oedipus” means “swollen feet” in Latinized Greek. His parents, Laius and Jocasta, gave him this name while piercing a metal rod through the ankles of his feet, in order to prevent the fulfilment of the oracle’s prophecy. Despite this heinous act, their efforts were in vain as Oedipus’ free will conquered the theme of fate. In the play Oedipus Rex by Sophocles, the tragic hero, Oedipus, demonstrates hamartia, a fatal error in judgement, which brings about his own downfall. It was Oedipus’ hubris that was responsible for the tragic ending of this play. Evidence of this statement occurs when Oedipus’ determination towards solving the mystery behind Laius’ death ironically lead to the truth behind the oracle’s prophecies. Additionally, Oedipus’ overweening pride and ego resulted in the murder of Laius, which was a major stepping-stone in the prophecy. He illustrates his error in judgment through his pride, blindness, and foolishness and therefore is at fault.
In fact, Oedipus’ determination towards solving the mystery behind Laius’ death ironically lead to the truth behind the oracle’s prophecy. His supercilious “energia” is present during his speech to the people of Thebes where he states, “As for the criminal, I pray to God -/ Whether it be lurking thief, or one of a number -/ I pray that that man’s life be consumed in evil and/ wretchedness,” (30). Furthermore, he explains that, “If any man knows by whose hand Laius, son of Labdacus,/ Met his death, I direct that man to tell me everything,/… Moreover: if anyone knows the murderer to be foreign,/ Let him not keep silent: he shall have his reward from me,” (30). When Oedipus seeks advice from Apollo in order to lift the curse casted upon Thebes, he learns that the identity of Laius’ murderer must be sought first. Oedipus swears an oath and is determined to uncover the truth behind this wretched murder. There is major dramatic irony as he curses the murderer, who is actually himself, to a life “consumed in evil and wretchedness.” Oedipus commits to bribery as he offers the citizens of Thebes a “reward” to “any man that knows by whose hand Laius, son of Labdacus, met his death.” His fearlessness and willpower allows him to solve the mystery, but ironically leads to the fulfillment of the prophecy. He fulfills fate only through persistent searching and realizes that the discovery of the final tragedy was his fault, not the fault of fate. However, this is was not the only scenario in which Oedipus’ hubris overcame his sense of logic.
In addition, Oedipus’ overweening pride and ego results in the murder of Laius and ultimately lead to his tragic revelation of...