Who Is to Blame? Essay

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“My parents are really well intended, and I think their way of dealing with things is denial and guilt. Nobody wanted to talk about it. But all I did was blame myself.” This quote, said by actress Teri Hatcher about her own childhood relates to Oedipus’s situation from Oedipus Rex by Sophocles. Sophocles‘ Oedipus Rex tells the story of a monarch named Oedipus who becomes the unfortunate victim of circumstances beyond his control. In Oedipus Rex, Oedipus‘ downfall is not a result of excessive hubris or his actions, but rather his parents’ disgraceful actions and uncontrollable aspects of fate.
Oedipus’ parents actions and decisions are a major element in Oedipus’ tragic downfall. Before Oedipus is born, Laius and Jocasta, the sovereigns of Thebes, journey to the Oracle at Delphi and are told by the seer that their; “...newborn son would grow up to kill his father and marry his mother” (Oedipus 1). Laius and Jocasta, disturbed by this news and determined to prevent the prophecy from coming true, order their son, who becomes known as Oedipus, to be killed in an inhumane manner; “A spike was driven through baby Oedipus' ankles and he was left on the side of Mt. Cithaeron to die” (Oedipus 1). Even though Jocasta and Laius believed Oedipus was dead, he was raised by Polybus, the sovereign of Corinth and his wife Merope. Later in his life, Oedipus has doubts about his true identity and travels to the Oracle at Delphi, which was a shrine where many Greeks would go to learn about the future. The Oracle of Delphi does not answer his question directly but instead retells the prediction previously told to Laius and Jocasta. Oedipus, upset that he might kill Polybus, leaves Corinth, travels to Thebes (the place where he was born) solves the riddle of the sphinx, and becomes the new monarch of Thebes, since Laius is dead when Oedipus arrives. Oedipus marries Jocasta, who is his mother and fulfills part of the prophecy foreseen by the Oracle of Delphi.
Over the course of the play it is discovered that Oedipus did kill Laius, when Oedipus grew angry at a traveler on his way to Thebes, even though Oedipus did not know it was his father; “On his journey, Oedipus came to a crossroads and was faced with a carriage driving the opposite direction. The driver struck Oedipus to get him to move out of the way, but this enraged the young man, who continued to fight and kill the driver and the man he was transporting - King Laius.” (Oedipus 1) At this revelation, Oedipus discovers that he fulfilled the prophecy of the Oracle, and blinds himself in his grief. By Laius and Jocasta’s decision in deserting him, Oedipus had no way of preventing the prophecy that caused his downfall. Laius and Jocasta should never have abandoned Oedipus on Mount Cithaeron. If Jocasta and Laius had raised Oedipus instead of Polybus and Merope, then Oedipus wouldn’t have inadvertently killed his father or unknowingly married his mother and the prophecy foretold by the Oracle at...

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