Prompt: How does Oedipus see himself? How do others perceive him? Explain how the author uses this juxtaposition to communicate theme?
In “Oedipus The King,” Sophocles uses a variety of themes, and one of them is Oedipus’ own self-discovery. On the beginning of the play, Oedipus is considered the hero, the person who would take the city of Thebes away from the plague. However, throughout the play, Oedipus and the citizens of Thebes discover his true identity, and he no longer is considered the hero.
On the beginning of the play, Oedipus describes himself to be a person that is willing to do anything to help his people (the people of Thebes). For instance, on the beginning of the play Oedipus says “Here I am, myself, world-famous Oedipus...You may count on me; I am ready to do anything to help...”(6). The theme of the play is Oedipus’s journey to self-discovery, this quote connects to theme by Oedipus, who describes himself to be a great force, a hero for the city; and so far seems to have done something to help the plague-stormed city. However, throughout the play, readers and Oedipus himself, learn that unknowingly, Oedipus was the person that brought the pain to the city of Thebes, by murdering the former beloved King Laius, his own father. First of all, once Oedipus learns that he himself unknowingly killed his father (previously King Laius), he begins to feel pity for himself and proposes that “death for the unholy man, the father-killer”(79), and “Will you consult Apollo about anyone as miserable as I”(79)? Which shows how bad he feels for bringing pain to the people of Thebes while he was trying to fix everything. He feels pity towards himself, and wants to die for doing something so appalling. As the story progresses, the theme of self-identification becomes more and more apparent since Oedipus did not know that he himself could do something that is so intolerable, specially to his own father. He then begins to wonder about his identity, and who he really is.
In the beginning of the play, the people of Thebes see Oedipus as god, and want his help to fight the plague called Sphinx; a plague that has been killing the...