Sophocles’ tragedy, Oedipus Rex, contains one main theme, which this essay will consider. The theme is the general doctrine or belief implicit in the drama, which the author seeks to make persuasive to the reader (Abrams 170).
In “Sophocles’ Moral Themes” Robert D. Murray Jr. cites a critic who is strictly moralist in the interpretation of the theme of Oedipus Rex:
Let C. M. Bowra speak for the moralists:
The central idea of a Sophoclean tragedy is that through suffering a man learns to be modest before the gods. . . . When [the characters] are finally forced to see the truth, we know that the gods have prevailed and that men must accept their own insignificance.
In short, for Bowra, the essence of each play of Sophocles is a message urging humility and piety (45).
Van Nortwick, seemingly in support of Bowra, describes Oedipus’ tragic flaw as something equivalent to the lack of modesty before the gods which Bowra refers to:
As ruler, he is a father to Thebes and its citizens, and like a father he will take care of his “children.” We see already the supreme self-confidence and ease of command in Oedipus, who can address not only other people’s children as his own, but also be a father to men older than he is. But beyond even this there is, in the sretched posture of the citizens, the hint of prostration before a deity. We are “clinging to your altars,” says the priest. . . . That he also exudes a godlike mastery in the eyes of his subjects only strengthens the heroic portrait. . . .(21-22).
The “godlike mastery” to which Van Nortwick refers is the same mastery which Creon in his final lines designates as the cause of the...
... middle of paper ...
...of Oedipus Rex, edited by Michael J. O’Brien. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1968.
Jevons, Frank B. “In Sophoclean Tragedy, Humans Create Their Own Fate.” In Readings on Sophocles, edited by Don Nardo. San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press, 1997.
Murray, Robert D. Jr. “Sophocles’ Moral Themes.” In Readings on Sophocles, edited by Don Nardo. San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press, 1997.
“Sophocles” In Literature of the Western World, edited by Brian Wilkie and James Hurt. NewYork: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1984.
Sophocles. Oedipus Rex. Transl. by F. Storr. no pag.
Van Nortwick, Thomas. Oedipus: The Meaning of a Masculine Life. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1998.
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- A prophecy of a boy who kills his father and marries his mother comes true in the story of Oedipus. Sophocles wrote Oedipus Rex, a play about a man who kills his father and marries his mother without realizing it. Oedipus leaves Corinth, the town he was raised in after being found hung by his ankles as a baby, and he kills his father, Laius, and his father’s servants. Then he arrives in Thebes and solves the riddle of the Sphinx, which he earns the ability to be ruler of Thebes and gets to marry Jocasta, his mother.... [tags: prophecy, ignorant, blindness]
538 words (1.5 pages)
- The Themes of Oedipus the King In the play Oedipus the King, by Sophocles, two themes appear; one that humans have little control of their lives because fate always catches up with them and the theme that when someone makes a mistake, they will have to pay for it. The theme that the lives of humans are controlled by the gods, in Oedipus, show that everything humans do are futile and result in no gain but only loss. This theme is mainly shown by the character Oedipus, king of Thebes.... [tags: Oedipus the King Oedipus Rex]
719 words (2.1 pages)
- In the play, Oedipus Rex, written by Sophocles, an honourable and admirable Greek king named Oedipus rules the town of Thebes. He is left in mental turmoil and decay as his unknown, corrupt and immoral past is slowly revealed during his quest to find the culprit who murdered King Laius. The newly exposed past suddenly transforms his glory and respect into shame and humiliation. After he learns about his wicked past he stabs his eyes, which lead to his blindness. During the course of the play, references to blindness and vision constantly recur, giving the reader an enhanced and more insightful look into the themes of the play.... [tags: Theatre]
1225 words (3.5 pages)
- 1) Oedipus Rex proves to be a tragic hero by displaying the qualities of goodness, appropriateness, and remaining consistent and realistic throughout the entire play. In the prologue of Oedipus Rex, Oedipus illustrates that he is morally good during his speech to the Priest and the suffering people of Thebes. "I know you are deathly sick; and yet, /Sick as you are, not one is as sick as I. /Each of you suffers in himself alone/His anguish, not another's; but my spirit/Groans for the city, for myself, for you" (Prologue.... [tags: Oedipus Rex, Sophocles]
529 words (1.5 pages)
- Use of Character Flaws and Literary Devices to Teach Morals in Oedipus Rex The Greek tragedy Oedipus Rex is an excellent example of how an author can use literary techniques and personality traits to teach a certain moral or theme. In Oedipus Rex, Sophocles communicates his themes and morals to the reader through the character flaws of Oedipus, a tragic hero. The most prominent character flaw that Oedipus possesses is his excessive arrogance. One way this flaw is displayed is Oedipus' repeated use of the pronoun "I".... [tags: Oedipus the King Oedipus Rex]
1292 words (3.7 pages)
- The Tragedy of Fate in Oedipus the King Oedipus the King is widely regarded as a tragedy of fate. Briefly stated, it begins with a terrible plague that destroys the city. King Oedipus sends a messenger to the oracle at Delphi to find a cure. The answer that is received suggests to find out who the killer of King Laios was. Oedipus sends for the prophet Teiresias, who after much arguing, finally reveals that Oedipus himself is the murderer. Slowly but surely the history of Oedipus' situation begins to unravel, and it is discovered that there was a prophecy made that he would unwittingly kill his father and marry his mother; Oedipus fulfilled his prophecy.... [tags: Oedipus the King Oedipus Rex]
808 words (2.3 pages)
- Truth in Oedipus Rex The play "Oedipus Rex" is a very full and lively one to say the least. Everything a reader could ask for is included in this play. There is excitement, suspense, happiness, sorrow, and much more. Truth is the main theme of the play. Oedipus cannot accept the truth as it comes to him or even where it comes from. He is blinded in his own life, trying to ignore the truth of his life. Oedipus will find out that truth is rock solid. The story is mainly about a young man named Oedipus who is trying to find out more knowledge than he can handle.... [tags: Oedipus Rex Essays]
742 words (2.1 pages)
- The Symbol of the Pierced Ankle in Oedipus the King The classification of Oedipus the King as a tragedy requires it to meet certain criteria pertaining to the main character, Oedipus. Oedipus must have no control over the situation which he is in, he has to have been harmed by someone for doing nothing or doing what is just, and he must come to an end in which he is utterly lost, or dies without resolving the situation. All three of these criteria can be found represented under a symbol, and that symbol is the piercing of his ankles as a child.... [tags: Oedipus Rex Essays]
525 words (1.5 pages)
- "Oedipus the King" written by Sophocles, is a powerful Greek tragedy story. The protagonist, Oedipus is a heroic mythical king who had it all. Oedipus pursues to find the true answers to his identity and destiny, while at the same time trying to avoid fulfilling his destiny. "Oedipus the King" was introduced around 429 B.C.E. in Athens. This was Sophocles' most celebrated play. It is recognized by many titles, such as its Latin title "Oedipus Rex" and "Oedipus Tyrannus." Sophocles' performed this play at the annual festival of Dionysus--a religious festival, which celebrated Dionysus, the god of intoxication, death, and fertility.... [tags: Oedipus Rex, Sophocles]
1682 words (4.8 pages)
- Sophocles was a Greek playwright who lived during the 5th century b.c. The Oedipus Cycle is one of his most famous works; the trilogy of plays traces the ill-fated life of a noble blooded man and his descendants. Oedipus at Colonus is the second play of the set. Oedipus at Colonus is set many years after Oedipus the King, and Oedipus has changed his perspective on his exile from Thebes. He has decided that he was not responsible for his fate and that his sons should have prevented his exile. His view has changed from the previous play when Oedipus proudly claimed responsibility for his actions, blinding himself and begging for exile.... [tags: Oedipus Rex, Sophocles]
660 words (1.9 pages)