Oedipus the King - A Greek Tragedy by Sophocles

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Oedipus arrives at Thebes and finds the city under the curse of the Sphinx who will not free the city unless the riddle is answered. Oedipus solves the riddle and is rewarded and made king. Laius, former king, has been killed and Oedipus has married the widowed queen, Iokaste. Now another plague is raging and the people of Thebes have asked Oedipus to rescue them. Kreon, Iokaste's brother returns from Apollo's oracle with the news that Laius's murder must be punished in order to rid the city of the plague. Teiresias, a blind prophet is summoned in an effort to discover the murderer, and under protest, reveals that Oedipus is the murderer of Laius, and that Iokaste is his mother. Iokaste in despair commits suicide, and Oedipus is devastated and blinds himself as punishment and asks to be exiled. As the play opens, Oedipus displays qualities of a good ruler. He is intelligent and noteworthy for his compassion and his sense of justice. He is above average because of his social standing and also because he is intelligent and the only person who was able to unravel the mystery and solve the Sphinx's riddle. He appears confident in his ability to rule and also because he was able to save Thebes by getting rid of the Sphinx. This is best illustrated when Oedipus says, " I have come myself to hear you- I, Oedipus who bear the famous name." He demonstrates compassion when he tells the plague-stricken citizens of Thebes that he is concerned about their health and well being. However, later in the play we see that he also behaves in a rash, angry manner and is unable to control his temper. This is quite evident when he tells the story of killing a man in a chariot and his attendants who attempted to run him off the crossr... ... middle of paper ... ...mpting to control his destiny. From the beginning of the play to the end, fate intervenes when Oedipus is saved from Laius's wrath as a baby, when Oedipus goes to the fork in the road where he kills his father, and lastly, when he answers the Sphinx's riddle and marries Iocasta. Oedipus's character has all of the necessary elements of a tragic hero. He is smart, perceptive, quick to act and a just ruler. He has many character flaws such as a quick temper and poor judgment and is stubborn and blind to the truth. In the end the audience shows pity on him. The mood that dominates the entire play is somber and sad, and one of destruction. In this play Sophocles stresses the infallibility of the oracle of Apollo. Oracles and prophecies in a drama are used primarily for the purpose of foreshadowing and for dramatic irony and for creating a dramatic atmosphere.

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