Oedipus the King Essay Example


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Oedipus: Fight Against Destiny

Oedipus the King Essay: Introduction

As Dante suggests in his works, arrogance is considered one of seven sins, and its punishment is justifiable. Also, Oedipus the King is a play that starts as a riddle about the conversations between Zeus and Oedipus, written by ancient tragedian Sophocles, and the storyline presents a profound indicator of arrogance. When looking at history, people, as cursed as Oedipus, is a rare find. The main structure of the play is based on the prophecy that King Laiu’s son will eventually kill him and marry the queen. Ever since his birth, Oedipus’ life revolved around this prophecy. The punishment Oedipus seems to stem from his arrogance, although the occurring of the prophecy is debatable, and many papers were written on this issue. After all, one may claim that his fight against destiny has led him cursed and punished.

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Even the name Oedipus is linked to his ill-fortune. Learning about the prophecy, King Laiu orders her wife to kill the infant Oedipus so that the prophecy may never become real. Nevertheless, the queen could not kill her son. Therefore, the task was left to be done by her servant. The servant tied Oedipus to a tree and left him to die there. The name Oedipus means ‘swollen foot’ in ancient Greek, which is a reference to the time when he was tied to a tree by his feet with a tight rope. But tying him to a tree was not the end of the story, it was just the beginning. Luckily, he was found by a shepherd and taken to the childless king of Corinth, Polypus, to raise him as his own offspring. In Corinth, after hearing numerous rumors, Oedipus consulted an oracle who foretold that he would murder his father and marry his own mother. To prevent this prophecy from happening, he leaves the town and heads to Thebes. However, denying your own prophecy is seen as insult and arrogance to gods in Ancient Greek, and an insult to gods seldom goes unpunished.

Later in the play, on his way to Thebes, he encounters a man and, after a heated argument, Oedipus kills the man. Little did he know, the man he killed was his own biological father, Laiu, the king of Thebes. This can be seen as the start of his punishment resulted from his arrogance against fate. After denying his prophecy, Gods force Oedipus to live by it, without his knowledge. His faith continues when he approaches Sphinx in Thebes. Sphinx is a mythical creature that asks the same riddle to every person that approaches and kills people who answer it wrong. Before Oedipus, no one knew the answer to the riddle. Sphinx asks this riddle; “What is the creature that walks on four legs in the morning, two legs at noon and three in the evening?” Oedipus correctly solved the riddle by saying: “Man.”

Answering the riddle correctly made people think that Oedipus has power and knowledge. However, in Ancient Greek, power belongs to Gods, and power arguably leads to arrogance if not controlled. Gods giving Oedipus the feeling of power is nothing but a way to lure him to his own punishment. Because, after answering it correctly, according to the culture of Thebes, Oedipus had the right to marry the queen of Thebes. He continues to do so; therefore, without his knowledge again, he marries his own biological mother. This fulfills his prophecy, but his punishment is not done yet.

Towards the end of the play, Apollo sends a plague to ravage the city. Oedipus sent his brother-in-law Creon to the oracle to find a solution. The oracle informs the king that, in order to put an end to this Plague, the murderer of former king Laius must be caught and exiled from the city. Oedipus decides to talk to the blind prophet Tiresias, but Tiresias refuses to talk to him because nothing comes from the truth but suffering. After pushing Tiresias to tell the truth, the blind prophet finally says that Oedipus himself is the murderer. Oedipus does not believe him and dismisses the prophet due to his arrogance. However, after thorough thinking, he realizes that the prophet's words might be true. At the time, the same shepherd comes to Thebes to bring some news, but Oedipus, his mind filled with countless questions, threatens him to get the answers. The shepherd finally tells him that Oedipus is the son of Laius, and he fulfilled his prophecy. After that knowledge, Oedipus curses himself and starts looking for a sword to kill himself at the palace. When he enters the bedroom, he encounters Jocasta, her mother, and wife, who had hung herself. As a last resort, he takes two pins from Jocasta's dress and plunges them to his eyes, making him blind. Later, he begs to people of Thebes to exile him. As the play ends, the Chorus wails: ‘Count no man happy until he dies, free of pain at last.'

Oedipus the King Essay: Conclusion

In conclusion, Oedipus the King is a play about teaching one’s place. The written prophecy is what determines a person’s life. The riddle of Sphinx is the summary of this play in some way. Mankind is predestined with absence and suffering, and no kind of escape is powerful enough to avoid this, especially denying due to arrogance. In Oedipus The King, one can see that the consequences of Oedipus’s escape of his destiny, along with his arrogance, led to concomitant punishment. After all, one may claim that his fight against destiny and arrogance has led him cursed and punished.

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Zendaya Kane
Zendaya Kane
Content Lead at Tamara Research. Major in Advertising, loves working.

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