Oedipus The King, By Sophocles Essay

Oedipus The King, By Sophocles Essay

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Oedipus the King, also known as Oedipus Rex was a tragic play written by Sophocles around 429 BC. The story of Oedipus is one of blindness, growth, deception, and fate, and Sophocles gives the reader several shocks throughout the play. The play begins with the citizens of Thebes begging their ruler, Oedipus to lift the plague that is causing their city to come to ruins. His brother-in-law Creon returns with news from the Oracle at Delphi stating that they must find the murderer of the previous king of Thebes, Laius. Oedipus quickly sets out to attempt to solve this mystery. Oedipus then calls upon the blind seer Tiresias to tell him who killed Laius. Upon finding out that Tiresias has told Oedipus that he is the murderer, he sends Tiresias away. While leaving, Tiresias explains the marriage between a mother and son, infamy, and how Oedipus was truly blind. Here one sees that even after obtaining all this knowledge Oedipus, who does not believe any of it, goes on his journey to find Laius’ murderer. At this point one theme makes itself clear, Oedipus refuses to accept the truth in his life, and Sophocles makes it a point to bring this up several times through the use of tragic irony, symbolism, and repetition throughout the play.
Sophocles’ use of irony displays to the reader that Oedipus is not as much of a visionary as he is made out to be. One of the more iconic portrayals of this would be the scene where Tiresias frames Oedipus for the murder of Laius. In the scene, Tiresias states, “I have said what I came here to say not fearing your countenance; there is no way you can hurt me. I tell you, king, this man, this murderer (whom you have long declared you are in search of, indicting him in threatening proclamation as murderer...


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... so clearly placed in front of them. In the end, Oedipus was not able to accept the truth in his life, no matter how many times he was shown this. Sophocles even made it a point to give Oedipus several reminders throughout the play as to what his fate would ultimately be through various afflictions and prophecies such as his swollen foot, scar, and Laius’ prophecy. In addition to this, Sophocles sends various characters throughout the play, such as the Messenger, Tiresias, and Jocasta, to describe to Oedipus his life in detail, although he paid them no attention. Ultimately, Tiresias was correct when he made the assumption of Oedipus being truly blind and lacking the gift to see what was in front of him. The theme of choosing to be ignorant occurs throughout the play and makes itself evident through various literary devices such as irony, symbolism, and repetition.

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