A story of fate versus free will, innocence versus guilt, and truth versus self-denial, Sophocles laces Oedipus the King with suspense through his use of dramatic irony and achieves an excellent tragedy. The drama opens and we meet Oedipus trying to figure out why his land is cursed and his people suffering. His quest to find out who has caused the downfall Thebes ultimately leads to his downfall. We learn of his triumphs as he has saved the people of Thebes by solving the riddle of the Sphinx, and so his character reflects one who has an ability to seek out the truth and also one who has the flaw of hubris. He reacts rashly when confronted by Tiresias and Creon when their revelations threaten his reality. This certainly reflects an attitude of a man lacking patience and self-control. Thus we see how he could have reacted when confronted by Laius many years ago at the symbolic crossroads. It is debatable whether Oedipus could have escaped his fate—a fate that was already predetermined by the Gods. Throughout the play his character reveals how he determines his behavior that leads to his self-revelation and self-destruction.
Oedipus is very confident that he knows who he is and what he represents to his people. When Creon returns from Delphi with news from the oracle, he urges Oedipus to receive the news in private, but his response is, “Speak out / speak to us all. I grieve for these, my people, / far more than I fear for my own life”(104-6). This moves works against Oedipus as it ensures that the truth is revealed to everyone. He continues to make hasty outbursts, “Now my curse on the murderer. Whoever he is, /…/ may the curse I just called down on him strike me” which seals his fate in the end (279-87). Oedipus is a puppet of fate and he appears to be incapable of evading his fate. As Creon says to him, “before you came and put us straight in course” (19). By Oedipus returning to Thebes he does put things straight on course—the course that has already prophesized.
Oedipus is truly blind to his truth and despite many hints and flat out admissions to who he is; he remains unknowing. Through his pride he mocks Tiresias for not using his “prophetic eyes” to solve the riddle of the Sphinx and save Thebes as he did. Tiresias response proves Oedipus’ lack of sight and knowledge even further:
“you mock my blindness? Let me tell you this.
You with your precious eyes,
you’re blind to the corruption of your life