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This Oedipus Essay Goes On To Demonstrate The Importance The Universal Quest For Truth.

1060 words - 4 pages

The Pursuit of Truth and Oedipus.In Sophocles' Oedipus the King, the character of Oedipus is painted as a curious and intellectual man who is tragically tainted by the Fate into which he was born. The era in which the story takes place was one rich with the constant conflict between the controversial quest for knowledge and truths and the generally accepted and encouraged passivity of unconditional reverence to the Greek pantheon of gods. He illustrates this conflict by showing his audience (or readers, in a modern sense) a "tragic hero," whose apparent hamartia lies between the realms of hubris and impiety. The impiety, however, is subtly disguised as cunning intellect and is less blatant than Oedipus's glaring pride. Ultimately, his downfall characterizes the natural fallacy of human logic--especially when one is faced with personal dilemmas. While it is his pursuit of truth and answers that rewards Oedipus with the kingship of Thebes, it is that very search that leads to his tragic downfall. His famed sight proves utterly useless and even baneful. While Oedipus seeks his own answers, Sophocles also leads the audience on a journey which comes only to one conclusion--that very axiom that plagues Oedipus--that no truth, no answer, is available to anyone through sight and searching alone. Any end arrived upon in this manner, by utilizing human logic and reasoning, is consequently a narrow-minded conclusion that simply reflects preferred outcomes and presuppositions, leading one only on a path of denial.Oedipus's quest for truth begins early in the play, after solving the cursed Riddle of the Sphinx, when the citizens of Thebes beg him for his assistance regarding the plague that afflicts the city. He vows to arrive at some solution, no matter what the cost, setting this resolution in stone once Creon returns to Thebes with news from the Oracle at Delphi. A murderer is poisoning the city of Thebes. Oedipus sets forth on his noble crusade to find King Laius's murderer by declaring, "So I honor my obligations/ I fight for the god and for the murdered man" (278-279). Oedipus curses Laius's murderer, ironically cursing himself to an inevitable doom. He already has certain expectations concerning the murder, obviously ignorant and oblivious to the possibility of personal responsibility. This of course is a natural and innocent reasoning process on his part, but Sophocles is showing his audience already that logical reasoning is what's driving Oedipus farther from the truth, however ugly it may be.His journey continues when he summons the blind oracle Tiresius to assist in the condemning mystery at hand. Tiresius makes drastic accusations aimed at Oedipus: "I charge you, then, submit to that decree/ you just laid down: from this day onward/ speak to no one, not these citizens, not myself/ You are the curse, the corruption of the land!" (398-401). These words set Oedipus into a more personal direction aimed toward discovering the mysteries of his cloudy...

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