Oedipus The King By Sophocles Essay

Oedipus The King By Sophocles Essay

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Sophocles’s dramatic play Oedipus the King takes place in ancient Greece. It focuses on Oedipus, the king of Thebes. As the plot unfolds, Sophocles reveals that Oedipus, Jacosta his wife/mother, and his father Laius have tried to change the course of events that have been foretold to them. The oracles make it clear to Laius, and later to Oedipus, that he will kill his father and marry his mother. Regardless of their attempts to alter the future, the foretold events develop outside of their control. These events lead to an unhappy ending for each of them. Mythical creatures, oracles, prophets, and gods all have a hand in shaping Oedipus’s life. Although the prophecies of Apollo’s oracles set key events into motion, it is Oedipus’s tragic flaw of excessive pride that leads to the eventual fulfillment of the prophecies.
Sophocles makes Oedipus’s excessive pride clear in the first seven lines of the play. In this scene, Oedipus addresses a priest with a group of children. Oedipus’s extreme opinion of his own status is displayed in lines five thru seven:
OEDIPUS. I did not think it fit that I should hear
of this from messengers but came myself, —
I Oedipus whom all men call the Great. (5-7)
Sophocles uses an em dash to place emphasis on the conclusion of this sentence. In so doing, Sophocles reveals Oedipus’s excessive pride by displaying his arrogance.
Oedipus summons Teiresias the blind prophet to answer questions regarding the murder of Laius. During their conversation Teiresias tries to avoid answering the questions, and warns Oedipus that the answers will cause Oedipus pain. Oedipus’s excessive pride leads him to become angry with Teiresias. This happens because Oedipus cannot tolerate someone he views as inferior to himse...


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...t his eyes. Had Oedipus been less conceited he may have been able to look beyond his self-interest and prevent Jacosta’s death. However, due to his excessive pride he was unable to save Jacosta and ultimately became blinded.
Oedipus is a proud man. This is not necessarily a bad thing for a king. However, excessive pride often leads to anger, and aggression. Sophocles portrays these traits in Oedipus during his dealings with Teiresias and Laius. Sophocles also characterizes hubris in Oedipus by the patronizing manner in which he treats Jacosta. Had Oedipus been able to humble himself he may have avoided the tragic fate which he suffered. Sophocles uses Oedipus’s tragic flaw to show that trying to do the right thing does not always prevent tragedy. Rather, his play serves to motivate the audience to improve their lives by being aware of flaws that can lead to tragedy.

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