Oedipus



Dealing With Fate: The Story of King Oedipus

Thebes is struck by a plague; the citizens are dying, and no one knows how to
put an end to it. The people look to their great king, Oedipus to save the city.
Oedipus, being a great king takes responsibility for saving the people and the
great city of Thebes. As the play progresses, Oedipus comes to realize that he
is the plague on the city. After realizing that he is a pawn of the Gods’,
Oedipus still takes responsibility for saving the city, even when the cure is
the expulsion of himself. Eventhough he expresses great anger towards the Gods
for his unfortunate fate, he takes the ultimate responsibility for his actions,
and for the actions of the Gods. Oedipus gives up his thrown, his family, and
his sight all for the sake of Thebes, proving that he is a man of great duty and
honor.

At the beginning of the play, Oedipus announces his willingness and power to
solve the mystery at hand. He takes it upon himself to once more, “bring what
is dark to light” (11). He is passionate to find the killer, at first out of
self motivation sighting the fact that the killer might come after him. “By
avenging the murdered king I protect myself” (11). When he is angered by the
silence of Teiresias he decides to “take the son’s part, just as though I
were his son...” (16). Oedipus shows how passionate of a leader he is by
taking a personal approach to solving the problem. He is greatly angered by
Tiresias, whom he believes may be one of the conspirators. Like any passionate
man, Oedipus continues to rile Tiresias up, hoping that he may gain the truth to
the riddle. Eventhough in reality Tiresias does tell of what will come, Oedipus
is unsatisfied. He has grown so ardent about solving the mystery, that he doesn’t
even see the truth in front of him. Even when Tieresias tells him:

You mock my blindness, do you? But I say that you, with both your eyes, are
blind: you cannot see the wretchedness of your life, nor in whose house you
live, no, nor with whom...But the double lash of your parents’ curse will whip
you out of this land some day, with only night upon your precious eyes (22-23).

Despite the foreshadowing, Oedipus takes the advise lightly and continues his
own search for justice.

Despite the disapproval of Iocasta, Oedipus continues to search for the truth
of what the prophet said. Iocasta tries to ensure him that the prophets are
wrong in predicting the future, and that the matter should not be further
investigated. Oedipus, being a righteous man, continues to search, even when it
begins to look like the answers lie within himself. When he realizes that he
killed a group of men along the side of the road, mirroring the story that he
had been told of the death of the king, Oedipus begins to accept his ill fate
stating, “...If I was created so, born to this fate, who could deny the
savagery of God”(44)? He is angered by the God’s plan which has already been
executed without him knowing it. He begins to realize the truth behind the
prophecy. At this point, Oedipus could ignore the new information that he
discovered, but being an honorable man, he continues to search for the truth. At
this point, Oedipus begins to take responsibility for himself on top of already
taking responsibility for the city.

After speaking to his last witness, Oedipus uncovers the real truth: he is
the son of Laios, whom he has murdered; husband to the queen, who is his real
mother. The Gods were obviously against him. Accepting his fate, the great king
knows what he must do:

Ah God! It was true! All the prophecies! -Now, o light, may I look on your
for the last time! I, Oedipus, Oedipus, damned in his birth, in his marriage
damned, damned in the blood he shed with his own hand (64)!

Oedipus takes a knife and gouges out his eyes. He begins making the
arrangements for his exile, apologizing for his fate and for his actions. He
claims that though Apollo ordained his fate, it was him who pierced his own
eyes. His banishment allows the rest of his destiny to finally be his own. In
exile, Oedipus finally has his freedom. As he promised at the beginning of the
play, he has saved Thebes, the cost of which is his sight, his fortune, and his
power. He leaves