Oedipus Rex, by Sophocles

Oedipus Rex, by Sophocles

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In “Oedipus the King,” an infant’s fate is determined that he will kill his father and marry his mother. To prevent this heartache his parents order a servant to kill the infant. The servant takes pity on the infant and gives him to a fellow shepherd, and the shepherd gives him to a king and queen to raise as their own. The young prince learns of the prophecy and flees from his interim parents because he is afraid that he is going to succeed. The young prince eventually accomplishes his prophecy without even knowing he is doing it. He murders his father and marries his mother unknowingly. While it may seem to some that Oedipus was destined to carry out his fate, it is also true that Oedipus’ personality led him to his fate.
It is clear to see that Oedipus is an impulsive and passionate man, which causes Oedipus to fulfill the prophecy that haunts him. He flees the kingdom of Corinthian in order to avoid his fate. Along his journey he comes to a crossroad that is blocked by a chariot, and “in a fit of anger” Oedipus kills the father he never knew (Meyer 1422). Oedipus’ anger causes him to kill the father he never knew and all the men in the entourage. Oedipus’ cannot control his temper and this personality flaw leads him to his fate.
Another example of Oedipus’ presumptuous temperament is when he immediately assumes that Creon is trying to take his power from him. Creon sends Tiresias to Oedipus to help him solve the crime of the plague, and when Tiresias reveals that Oedipus must die in order to save the people of Thebes, Oedipus assumes Creon is trying to take his throne. Creon even tells Oedipus, “…if you think crude, mindless stubbornness such a gift, you’ve lost your sense of balance” (Meyer 1438). Oedipus’ impulsive nature leads him to discovering the truth and reveals that he has indeed fulfilled the prophecy he was running from.
After Oedipus becomes king of Thebes, the people of Thebes become plagued. Oedipus’ feels responsible for saving the people of Thebes. Oedipus’ pride to save the city later turns to pity after he divulges the sin he has committed. His pride forces him to find the traitor who murdered Laius. He eventually finds out that he is the sinner and gouges his eyes out to prove that he is not worthy of sight.

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He begs Creon to take pity on him. His pride drives him to accuse Creon, and that same pride turn to self-pity. Oedipus’ impulsive nature and pride lead to his eventual demise, where he has to ask Creon to take pity on his life.
It is clear that Oedipus is impulsive, presumptuous, and prideful nature drove him to fulfill the prophecy that he was running from. It is possible that his destiny was always to fulfill the curse but if it wasn’t for his personality flaws he might have been able to stop the curse. If he had not fled from Corinth without finding out the truth that he wasn’t his parents blood son, then he might have never encountered the hurt he did. Oedipus had the chance to live with free will but because of his disposition he was lead to his fate, to destroy his family.



Works Cited

Hodge J. “Dead or Banished”: A Comparative Reading of the Stories of King Oedipus and King David. SJOT: Scandinavian Journal of the Old Testament [serial online]. November 2006;20(2):189-215. Available from: Academic Search Complete, Ipswich, MA. Accessed July 24, 2011.
Sophocles. “Oedipus the King." The Bedford Introduction to Literature. Ed. Michael Meyer. 9th ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2011. 1422-66. Print.
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