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To What Extent Is Oedipus Responsible For His Own Downfall?

1230 words - 5 pages

A special attribute of Greek tragedy is that the central character is known to have a tragic imperfection that contribute to the fall of the character. In the play Oedipus Rex this characteristic is not an exception. Nevertheless, until what point was Oedipus responsible for his own downfall? There are many theories that can give an answer to this question. Was it destiny or a manipulation of the gods? Or was it a punishment for his actions to his parents? Was anyone else responsible for his downfall too (Jocasta, Laius)? In this essay I will prove that even though he is not the only one to blame for his downfall, he is the major person responsible for his ruin.

We can not make him responsible for acting in the way he did. If we were in his position I am sure that everyone will act like him. He did not know about his past and because of that it is hard to believe when people said that he was going to kill his father and sleep with his mother. He lived his life without knowing about his past and so we can not hold him responsible. In fact, we should guilt Jocasta because she knew everything and did nothing to stop because she is very skeptical about prophesies.

JOCASTA: A prophet? Well then, free yourself of every charge! Listen to me and learn some peace of mind: no skill in world, nothing human can penetrate the future. Here is proof, quick and to the point.

An oracle to Laius one fine day (I won't say from Apollo himself but his underlings, his priests) and it said that doom would strike him down at the hands of a son, our son, to be born of our own flesh and blood. (Line 779-787)

In this quote we can clearly see that Jocasta knew about the prophesy and she did not believe on it. Even when her husband, Laius the king, died she did nothing to investigate the crime.

We can also blame King Laius and Jocasta because if they really wanted Oedipus to be death they should have done it by themselves. However, if they did not believed in oracles and prophecies they should have stayed with their son, Oedipus. If we think about it, it was pure coincidence that Oedipus kill his father. In fact, by going away from Corinth he was trying to defeat his fate. Nevertheless, he didn't knew that his real father was Laius and not Polybus.

As I said before, even though he is not the only one to blame for his downfall, he is the major person responsible for his ruin. Oedipus is responsible for his own downfall because of his ability to solve riddles. He was the one that saved the city of Thebes from the Sphinx by answering the puzzle. If he had never answer the riddle he would not have been named the King of Thebes. Tiresias says to Oedipus that his ability to solve riddles was his own ruin. In this case he would not have sleep with his mother. However, he has already killed his own father, nevertheless, he would never know that.

He is also responsible because of his detective ability. He is the one that started...

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