Free Essays - The Themes of Oedipus the King (Rex)

Free Essays - The Themes of Oedipus the King (Rex)

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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. In the beginning of his life, Laius the king planned to kill his son by leaving him on Mount Cithaeron to die. " the moment I was your savior."


From the very beginning, Oedipus was destined to fulfill Apollo's prophecy of killing his father. Even though King Lauis tries to kill Oedipus to stop the fulfillment of this shameful prophecy, fate drives the Corinthian messenger to save Oedipus. What the gods fortell will come true and no human can stop it from happening, not even the kings. Oedipus is once again controlled by this power when he leaves the place of his child hood after he hears that he is to kill his father and marry his mother. "I shall shrink from find the the murderer of Laius...You are the murderer..." Oedipus tried to stop the prophecy from coming true by leaving Corinth and only fate can make Oedipus turn to the road where he kills his true father. Leaving Corinth makes Oedipus lose his childhood by making him worry of such issues young people should not have to worry about and becoming a king of a strange land. Last of all, Oedipus carries the last part of the prophecy out, marrying his mother. " I would... never have been known as my mother's husband. Oedipus has no control over the outcome of his life. Fate causes Oedipus to have known the answer to the Sphinx's riddle and win his marriage to his mother, Jocasta. Had fate not intervened, the chances of marrying Jocasta would have been small since there is an enourmous number of people and places to go. Oedipus loses his sense of dignity after he discovers he is not only a murderer, but also that he had committed incest.

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From his birth to the end of the play, fate intervenes when Oedipus is saved from Lauis' 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 Jocasta.


The second theme, mistakes and wrongs toward other people will be paid, for is told by Tiresias,the prophet, and carried out by Jocasta, and once again, King Oedipus. Tireseis states, after being accused of being a fool and mocked by Oedipus, "These reproaches you fling at me, all these people here will fling them at you..." Tireseis realizes that mockery and false accusations will not go unpaid forever. This foreshadows the mockery Oedipus will experience after the truth to his marriage is discovered, these people will jeer at him. Jocasta makes a detrimentale mistake when she marries Oedipus. She even says, "...he had more or less the same build as you." Jocasta ignores all the obvious features between Laius and Oedipus because she was so in love. If she had taken notice of these things, her pain would be more endurable because Oedipus would not know that the prophecy was being fulfilled. Lastly, King Oedipus made a mistake losing his temper when he meets King Laius. "The driver tried to push me off the road...he aimed at my head with a two-pronged goad, and hit me. I paid him back in full...I killed the whole lot of them." Oedipus wronged Laius here by killing him over a small incident and fit of anger. Had Oedipus not killed Laius, the murderer of would not have to be searched out and ultimately, the truth about his marriage to his mother would not be told and the kingdom would continue to thrive along with the family happiness. The statement by Tireseis and the mistakes of the royal family, show that the mistakes and insults toward others will be returned to that person who has wronged the other.



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