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The Oedipus Complex Essay

1140 words - 5 pages

The Oedipus Complex Sophocles' play, "Oedipus Rex", was written in the era of 400 B.C., thus capturing and reflecting the traditions of society at that time. Sophocles lived before the Christian era, so beliefs revolved around the idea of polytheism, belief in or worship of many gods. Because life was so delicate, they needed gods for everything to cope with life's fragility through supernatural aid. Since future events were left to the various gods to decide and the oracles to relay, Oedipus could not make his own decisions regarding the course of his life. He was an object of destiny from the day he was born and probably even before that. Some examples of Oedipus' destiny, as presented in the play, derive from symbols, character traits, and insights.The play of Oedipus' life offers symbols of his destiny. Since all aspects of life are left to destiny, the gods branded Oedipus, so to speak, by allowing the servant to pierce his ankles. The gods marked Oedipus when he was born and his fortune would never be forgotten. He fled his supposed hometown so that his "father" could reign peacefully and healthily. When Oedipus recalls his meeting with King Laios, he mentions the path where three highways met. "There were three highways coming together at a place I passed; and there a herald came towards me, and a chariot drawn by horses, with a man such as you describe seated in it" (Act I, Scene 2, ll. 277-281). The three paths represent past, present and future coming together at the same time. His father represents his past, the action he takes at this time on the road is the present, and what he does also affects his future. Oedipus was destined to be on that very path to kill his father and continue along to marry his own mother, even though he did not know it was happening. Oedipus did everything he thought he could in order to escape his own destiny. This is too much of a coincidence that Oedipus and his real father would be on the same path at the same time at a place where three roads meet. It is apparent that fate is involved in placing these two destined men at that specific place and time.Along with symbols, Sophocles shows Oedipus' lack of control through his temperament. If the gods created each man, then they had to create each man's personality and disposition. The gods made Oedipus to be a rightfully arrogant man with an excessively hot temper. These character traits allowed for many of the destined incidences to materialize. On the journey to Thebes, Oedipus came upon King Laios and his supporters in a small party, in contrast to Oedipus' party. When Oedipus asked King Laios to move aside, King Laios haughtily stood up for himself claiming the right to the road. The two matching egos roused the brawl that would validate Oedipus' defense and his destiny.Oedipus' quest for the truth was another character trait that would play a part in his undoing. His kingdom experiences a very dark plague. When a messenger went to the oracle for help,...

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