Oedipus The King Essay

1737 words - 7 pages

The tragedy of Sophocles’ Oedipus the King is not only that of a man exposing the horrific truth behind his past. The greatest tragedy is the ever-changing perception of Oedipus, by both the citizens of Thebes, and the play’s audience. Oedipus exudes a gross amount of self-confidence and ego, leading to narrow vision with no room for the perspectives of Tiresias, Jocasta or Creon, thus insuring his own demise. By the end of the play, the audience, along with the other characters, can track the personality flaws that led Oedipus to his personal, living-hell. But the context of the play’s and Oedipus’ history, along with his unfortunate traits, actually highlight another aspect to his character. That aspect is the fact that Oedipus’ incredible ego was completely deserved. His overwhelming self-confidence that some would perceive as destructive and unnecessary, is a product of being the true manifestation of his own self-image. It was the qualities that led him to be the savior and ruler of Thebes that led him to his terrible confrontation with fate, not qualities that were a result of being a ruler.
The first portion of the play is devoted to addressing the fact that Oedipus has an enormous ego. He introduces himself, “Here I am myself- you all know me, the world knows my fame. I am Oedipus” (7-9). This introduction is not for the benefit of the audience as they are already all too familiar with the legend of Oedipus. This is less of a practical introduction of the titular character and more of an establishment of one of his core characteristic, that being his self-confidence. Ironically, the “world” and the “fame” that Oedipus speaks of are completely different to those of the play’s audience. The world knows Oedipus for his great accomplishments as a ruler and as the solver of the Sphinx’s riddle. That is the challenge for the audience, to watch this tragedy unfold knowing a character’s fate before he gets to it, while at the same time, viewing this character through the evolving perception of the characters around him, which in turn only makes the tragic nature of the plot and Oedipus the character all the more powerful.
From the first portion of the play, given the words of Oedipus, one would think the main character to be practically pompous or arrogant. Borderline-blasphemous lines such as, “You pray to your Gods? Let me grant your prayers”, would characterize Oedipus as someone with delusions of grandeur (245). But his interactions with other citizens of Thebes can place this behavior into a context that better supports his actions and can possibly even justify them.
One of the first lines from a character other than Oedipus is that of the Priest, “Oh Oedipus, king of the land, our greatest power!” (16). The priest, voicing the opinions of the people of Thebes, brings forth the point that the people agree with Oedipus, not for any persuasiveness or manipulation on his part, but because they have witnessed his greatness first hand....

Find Another Essay On Oedipus the King

Oedipus the King Essay

1019 words - 4 pages WangRuiqi WangLangCTI 35029 September 2014Oedipus the King by Sophocles focuses on the unfortunate demise and consequences a prophecy brings in the life of Oedipus. From his birth, Oedipus is fated with eventually murdering his father and marrying to his mother. Sophocles inconspicuously inserts symbolism to let the audience investigate the relation between the symbols and the prophecy. One such symbol, the crossroad, represents the calamitous

Oedipus the king 3 Essay

523 words - 2 pages Oedipus the King "Ankle Theory" The classification of "Oedipus the King" as a tragedy requires it to meet certain criteria pertaining to the main character, Oedipus. Oedipus must have no control over the situation which he is in, he has to have been harmed by someone for doing nothing or doing what is just, and he must come to an end in which he is utterly lost, or dies without resolving the situation. I believe all three of these criteria can

"Oedipus the king" essay

612 words - 2 pages ...for Loxias declared that the King should be killed by his own son." This directly proves humans "powerful" vulnerability into believing things, and shows how Oedipus' fate aroused.In addition to Jocosta, characters like Creon, wealthy and educated, also helped in the encouragement of the fates, Oedipus', denial. Creon was fooled into believing the "myth" that many thought was vanished. He spoke with pride and superiority with Oedipus, assuring

Oedipus the King

1168 words - 5 pages Oedipus the King The ancient Greeks were famous for their tragedies. These dramas functioned to “ask questions about the nature of man, his position in the universe, and the powers that govern his life” (“Greek” 1). Brereton (1968) stated that tragedies typically “involved a final and impressive disaster due to an unforeseen or unrealized failure involving people who command respect and sympathy. It often entails an ironical change

Oedipus the King

1115 words - 4 pages Oedipus the king written by sophecles when read for the first time the reader will realize that the audience already knows what is going to happen its just the way that the characters deal will with it. There is an oracle that says that Oedipus will kill his father and marry his mother. Sophecles examines the relationship between fate and free will. Fate being what some say is an excuse. For example if I said that I could not do what I wanted

Oedipus The King

726 words - 3 pages Oedipus the King Oedipus the King was written by Sophocles between 430 BC and 420 BC. The story takes place in Thebes, a city-state. Thebes is deteriorating because it has infertile soil, and its women are giving birth to stillborns. Thebes was cursed by the sphinx's riddle, which Oedipus solved when he first arrived there. After this, he was considered the savior of the city. Oedipus then vows to help the city of Thebes with it's new plague. An

Oedipus the King

875 words - 4 pages , Oedipus would be born to Laius and Jocasta, only to grow up to be the death of his father, Laius, and the bride to his mother, Jocasta. Believing this to be true, the king and queen give the child to a shepherd, who was to kill Oedipus. Not wanting to do this, the shepherd passed the baby on to another shepherd, who then gave the child to his foster parents, King Polybus and Queen Merope. Thus, Oedipus grows up believing the king and queen to be his

Oedipus The King

845 words - 3 pages couldn't have killed him.Oedipus, however, is still worried about the sleeping with his mother part of the prophecy. Jocasta tells Oedipus he's better off not thinking and worrying about it.The messenger informs Oedipus and Jocasta that the King of Corinth and his wife were not Oedipus's real parents. Oedipus was discovered with his feet pierced and tied by a shepherd who then gave him to the messenger.Although she has no lines here, Jocasta

Oedipus the King - 2228 words

2228 words - 9 pages Oedipus the King, written by Sophocles, is a tragic drama that portrays a great deal of irony. Oedipus, the protagonist, suffers serious misfortune that is significant in that the “misfortune is logically connected with the hero’s actions” (AbleMedia LLC). When the reader learns about the background of Greek culture and the life of Sophocles, this tragic drama is able to become more alive and valuable. It is important to familiarize oneself with

Oedipus the King - 1460 words

1460 words - 6 pages Oedipus the King Oedipus the King is one of the most famous and influential of Sophocles' plays. On the surface of this drama there is, without a doubt, a tone of disillusionment. Dramatic irony is a much-used literary device in this play and its unusual structure serves as an explanation for its enduring popularity. Oedipus is portrayed as a character of social conscience whose tragedy stresses the vulnerability of human beings whose

Oedipus the King - 2396 words

2396 words - 10 pages At the very beginning of the play, the audience recognizes that not only can Oedipus see in a physical sense, but also he has some unusual ability of perception (Bloom 33). The people of Thebes revere their king because he saved them from the Sphinx by solving the supposedly impossible riddle. It is only natural that they bring their problems to him again and expect that he will be able to save them from the plague by discovering the

Similar Essays

Oedipus The King Essay

628 words - 3 pages Oedipus the King: Free Will or Fate? A common debate that still rages today is whether we as a species have free will or if some divine source, some call it fate, controls our destiny. The same debate applies to Oedipus the King and Oedipus at Colonus. Does Oedipus control his actions, or are they predetermined by the gods? It's that question that makes Oedipus a classic, and many different people think many different things. With all the

Oedipus The King 2 Essay

635 words - 3 pages Oedipus' Hamartia Aristotle once said that a hero's downfall must be a result of some tragic flaw within the character. This flaw was known as hamartia in the Greek world of Aristotle. Since Aristotle greatly admired Oedipus the King, many people believe that Oedipus must have had a prominent and complex hamartia. Discovering Oedipus' hamartia within the play is not an easy task. In fact, it is impossible to point out Oedipus' hamartia since I

Oedipus The King Essay 635 Words

635 words - 3 pages Oedipus' Hamartia Aristotle once said that a hero's downfall must be a result of some tragic flaw within the character. This flaw was known as hamartia in the Greek world of Aristotle. Since Aristotle greatly admired Oedipus the King, many people believe that Oedipus must have had a prominent and complex hamartia. Discovering Oedipus' hamartia within the play is not an easy task. In fact, it is impossible to point out Oedipus' hamartia since I

Oedipus The King Essay

881 words - 4 pages Oedipus the King Fate is a very crucial aspect of everybody's life. All people have their fate predetermined for them by God before they are even born. Some times a person can control what happens to him/her but only to a certain extent. The reason that some happenings are controlled to an extent goes to the fact that all other aspects in life are controlled by a higher power. There are so many occurrences in life that may not be introduced to