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The Tragic Fate of Oedipus the King
In the play Oedipus the King, Oedipus the main character meets with a
tragic fate. In the beginning he is a mighty king, ruler of the city of
Thebes. Then the people of Thebes come to him with a problem. The city is
tragically on the surge of death. Oedipus, being the mighty king he is, is
determined to solve the problem. Oedipus saved the city once before and
became a hero. Now faced with this problem he would like to be a hero
again, but things don't always take a turn out good.
When the priest and the people of Thebes come to Oedipus, the
priest tells Oedipus, "Your own eyes must tell you: Thebes is in her
extremity and cannot lift her head from the surge of death." (802). They
then tell Oedipus that they know he is a great king and they turn to him to
find a remedy. Oedipus saved the city once before from the Sphinx by
solving the riddle and destroying her. Now faced with this new problem he
has no choice but to solve the problem and save the city once again.
Oedipus then sends his brother Creon to get whatever information he
can. Creon leaves the city and then comes back with some information. He
tells Oedipus that the gods command them to expel from the land of Thebes
an old defilement that it seems they shelter. The gods tell them to take
revenge upon whoever killed there past king. Oedipus, now the mighty king,
is determined to find out what happened. He says, "Then once more I must
bring what is dark to light. You shall see how I stand by you, as I should,
to avenge the city and the city's god." (804).
The first thing Oedipus does is to call on Teiresias who is the
holy prophet in whom, alone of all men, truth was born. When Teiresias
arrives he tells Oedipus, " Let me go home. Bear your own fate, and I'll
bear mine. It is better so: trust what I say." (808). Oedipus can not
accept this and demands to know what Teiresias knows. He calls Teiresias a
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wicked man and tells him he has no feeling. Teiresias still refuses and
then Oedipus charges Teiresias with the crime. Teiresias then tells
Oedipus what he knows, "I say that you are the murderer whom you seek."
(809). Oedipus can not believe this and then says, "Are you speaking for
Creon, or for yourself?" Oedipus is in so disbelief he blames Creon of the
crime thinking that Creon did it for wealth, power, and the king's position.
When Creon hears this he goes to Oedipus and tells him that he is
innocent and that he can't believe that Oedipus would blame him of this
crime. Oedipus asks him about Teiresias and why didn't he tell him this
news before. Oedipus says, why did Teiresias keep this news about me to
himself? Creon then says, they asked him before and the prophet did not
speak of you. Then Oedipus says, " If he were not involved with you, he
could not say that it was I who murdered the king." (814). Creon then
tells Oedipus that he wouldn't even want to be king. He wouldn't want that
responsibility and that he has the perfect position. He has none of the
king worries and all of the king power.
Then Oedipus, still in disbelief that he is the killer, starts to
find out the truth. In talking to his wife, Iocaste, she tells him that
the only person who saw the killing is an old servant of hers who left the
city. Oedipus calls for the servant to return to the city. When the
servant comes to the city he doesn't want to talk to Oedipus, but Oedipus
forces him to tell what he knows. The servant tells Oedipus that the past
king had him take his son and leave him on a mountainside because it was
said that his son would kill him. The servant then says that he took the
child but couldn't leave him, so he gave him to someone of a far away city.
He then told Oedipus that he was this child.
Then Oedipus remembers that on his way to Thebes that he had a
confrontation with some men and killed them. Oedipus then realizes that he
killed his father, the king, and goes to find his wife, who is also his
mother for she was married to the past king. When he finds his wife he
finds that she had killed herself. Oedipus can not believe what he has
done and stabs his eyes out with a broch that his dead wife is wearing.
After this Oedipus comes out and calls on Creon to tell him that he
is sorry for all that he has done. He tells Creon to take care of his
children and to grant him one last wish. That after he talks to the people
of Thebes and tells them all that has happened, he wants Creon to lead him
out of the city to die.
Oedipus is lead out to the people of Thebes and they are told to
look at him, their mighty king which all eyes once looked upon with envy,
and now at the end, ruin swept over him. It is said, "Let every man in
mankind's frailty consider his last day; and let none presume on his good
fortune until he find life, at his death, a memory without pain." (836).
All Oedipus tried to do was to save the city that he once saved
before, but ended up only being a tragic hero.