The Intention of Oedipus in Oedipus the King

The Intention of Oedipus in Oedipus the King

Length: 1161 words (3.3 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Excellent

Open Document

Essay Preview

More ↓

The intention (motivation) of Oedipus in Oedipus Rex

Oedipus Rex, also known as Oedipus the King, is one of the most ironic plays ever written. Sophocles, the author, is a famous philosopher of the ancient times. The Play is about Oedipus, the king of Thebes, who unwittingly killed his father and married his mother. An oracle warned Laius, the king of Thebes prior to Oedipus, that his son would slay him. Accordingly, when his wife, Jocasta, bore a son, he exposed the baby on Mt. Cithaeron, first pinning his ankles together (hence the name Oedipus, meaning Swell-Foot). A shepherd took pity on the infant, who was adopted by King Polybus of Corinth and his wife and was brought up as their son. In early manhood Oedipus visited Delphi and upon learning that he was fated to kill his father and marry his mother, he resolved never to return to Corinth. Travelling toward Thebes, he encountered Laius, who provoked a quarrel in which Oedipus killed him.
Continuing on his way, Oedipus found Thebes plagued by the Sphinx, who put a riddle to all passersby and destroyed those who could not answer. Oedipus solved the riddle, and the Sphinx killed herself. In reward, he received the throne of Thebes and the hand of the widowed queen, his mother, Jocasta. They had four children: Eteocles, Polyneices, Antigone, and Ismene. Later, when the truth became known, Jocasta committed suicide, and Oedipus, after blinding himself, went into exile, leaving his brother-in-law Creon as regent. The central theme in this work is that one cannot control his/her fate, whether the intentions are good or bad. Oedipus, the main character in this play is motivated to find the truth, and his intentions are good. The motivation is always followed by the intentions, just as the truth is followed by goodness. There are three critical parts to Oedipus's motivation. There is the prophecy, the realization, and the revelation. They will be discussed consecutively.
The beginning of the play opens up with the dilemma of the plague as explained before. Creon, Oedipus's brother in-law (which turns out to be his uncle), comes from the oracle with the advice to end the plague. He explains the previous leader, Laius, had been murdered, and they haven't found the murderer. More importantly, was the way Oedipus handled the situation. He
had Creon explain this out loud so that the public can hear as well.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"The Intention of Oedipus in Oedipus the King." 17 Aug 2018

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Realism in Oedipus the King Essay

- Realism in Oedipus Rex              This essay will examine a feature of Sophocles’ tragedy which causes the reader to doubt the realism underlying the literary work. Specifically, the essay will consider the feasability of the belief at that time – that the Delphi oracle possessed credibility with the people.   At the outset of the drama the priest of Zeus and the crowd of citizens of Thebes are gathered before the royal palace of Thebes talking to King Oedipus about the plague which is ravaging the city....   [tags: Oedipus the King Oedipus Rex]

Research Papers
1230 words (3.5 pages)

tragoed Free Essay: Oedipus the King (Oedipus Rex) as a Greek Tragedy

- Oedipus the King as a Greek Tragedy The Greek tragedy, Oedipus the King, written by Sophocles (496-406 B.C.), adheres to Aristotles (384-322 B.C.) definition of a tragedy. The first criterion of a Greek tragedy is that the protagonist be a good person; doubly blessed with a good heart and noble intention. Sophocles reveals immediately at the start of the play that Oedipus is such a man. As is common in the Greek tragedy Oedipus is also an aristocrat. Born of the King and Queen of Thebes he is of true nobility....   [tags: Oedipus the King Oedipus Rex]

Free Essays
1603 words (4.6 pages)

Oedipus the King Essay

- The play takes place at the palace in Thebes. Time of Action & Duration of Action The play takes place in the fifth century B.C. and plays out in a fairly short period of time. The play last a day in its entirety. Basic Mood This play is a Greek tragedy the most dominant mood is that of a tragedy. There are moments in the play that provide the audience with a deep sense of empathy for Oedipus and for his daughters, as well as being able to understand the grief of Iokaste and her death was an obnoxious display of her own guilt and grief....   [tags: Oedipus Rex Essays]

Free Essays
951 words (2.7 pages)

Creon's Changes in Oedipus the King and Antigone Essay

- In all works of literature you will find characters that change. From Oedipus the King to Antigone, Creon changes a great deal. In Oedipus the King, Creon has no intention whatsoever of being king. By the end of the play he makes it clear that his intentions have changed and he does want to take Oedipus’s power and become King of Thebes. When we see Creon in Antigone he has become king and he begins to make his mistakes. Creon, who is Iocasta’s brother, claims in Oedipus the King that he does not wish to have the power and responsibility of being king....   [tags: character analysis]

Research Papers
844 words (2.4 pages)

Oedipus The King: Role Of Gods Essay

- “Gods can be evil sometimes.” In the play “Oedipus the King”, Sophocles defamed the gods’ reputation, and lowered their status by making them look harmful and evil. It is known that all gods should be perfect and infallible, and should represent justice and equity, but with Oedipus, the gods decided to destroy him and his family for no reason. It might be hard to believe that gods can have humanistic traits, but in fact they do. The gods, especially Apollo, are considered evil by the reader because they destroyed an innocent man’s life and his family....   [tags: Oedipus Rex, Sophocles]

Research Papers
1054 words (3 pages)

Oedipus the King Essay

- Sophocles’ use of irony is amongst the greatest of all time, as demonstrated masterfully in Oedipus the King. He displays both ambition and understated humour by using irony in diverse ways, both cosmic and dramatic, as well as verbal irony to add a greater level of wit. Every word spoken holds great symbolic weight and those words contribute to a narrative that reflects the gods plans. Adversely the work of Johnathan Swift takes the form of a social satire, combining economic arguments with a sociopolitical commentary to reflect the tragedy of the people....   [tags: Sophocles]

Research Papers
1055 words (3 pages)

Sophocles' Great Tragedies: Oedipus and Antigone Essay

- Sophocles, one the most famous ancient Greek playwrights, composed two Greek tragedies that have survived to today. Oedipus the King and Antigone are Sophocles’ most well-known dramas. These two plays emphasize the catastrophic events that take place following a series of incidents and decisions. Throughout the two plays the audience is continuously uncovering details that will eventually lead to the downfall of the main characters. By comparing the two plays, one can identify similar aspects of the plays that would eventually lead to the characters downfalls....   [tags: intentions, defiance, fate]

Research Papers
1391 words (4 pages)

Oedipus the King and The Tragedy of King Lear Essay

- Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex and William Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of King Lear One of the key themes in both Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of King Lear and Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex is the importance of having a good understanding of our condition as human beings – knowing ourselves, the world that surrounds us and our place in it. At the same time, however, both authors recognize the fact that blindness to this knowledge of the human condition is a basic mortal trait. Thus, before we can have an understanding of the human condition, we must endure a journey to wisdom....   [tags: compare contrast]

Research Papers
1274 words (3.6 pages)

Sophocles' Oedipus the King as Nothing More Than a Detective Story Essay

- Sophocles' Oedipus the King as Nothing More Than a Detective Story The play “Oedipus the King” is a Greek tragedy written by Sophocles in the early days of antiquity and is based upon an ancient story in Greek mythology. It was written around a time when Rome was in power and Athens was the centre of the world. In this time, people believed that the Gods controlled all and that fate and destiny could never be escaped. Based on the title of this essay, I do believe that the play “Oedipus the King” contains some of the qualities that a detective story holds, however I do not think it entirely mirrors one....   [tags: Papers]

Research Papers
1986 words (5.7 pages)

Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex (the King) and Seneca’s Oedipus Essay

- Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex (the King) and Seneca’s Oedipus   Contrary to Sophocles’ Oedipus that was written to the Greeks, a peaceful and wise audience, Seneca’s Oedipus was written to the Romans, a militaristic and violent community.  Seneca successfully appeals to the elements of Roman literature; therefore, Edith Hamilton in The Roman Way calls him the “Father of sentimental drama.”  Seneca wrote the play in around 50 AD about 480 years after Sophocles’ production.  The Roman audience responded to a melodramatic plot rather than the tragic theme of the former Oedipus.  Seneca, in rewriting the play Oedipus makes significant adjustments to suit the Roman audience, particularly plot and s...   [tags: comparison compare contrast essays]

Research Papers
1065 words (3 pages)

He tells Creon, 'Speak for all! My heavy load of care more for the sake than for my own I bear';. From this, we learn about Oedipus's honest character, and the closeness he tries to share with the public. After this, Oedipus then pledges himself to find and punish the murderer. There is a usage of irony in the method of punishment, in which Oedipus says, 'But all men from their houses banish him; Since it is he contaminates us all';, when actually it is Oedipus, who is the murderer of Laius and he will be the one who is banished. His motivation is innocent, for this reason is what makes it such a tragedy. Oedipus blindly led his life, not having any clue that the prophecy might lead to truth. This would be the prophecy stage Oedipus goes though.
Now comes the realization stage, of which the reader very well knows that Oedipus's prophecy is true, but Oedipus himself does not know. This is a very interesting situation for the reader. That is because the reader stays in suspense to see how Oedipus reacts to the truth. The motivation of Oedipus in this stage is very interesting because it is at this point, we realize that he has one more quality to his character, and that is anger. For this is shown to us twice, once with Tiresias and Creon, and the other time with the old man. In
Oedipus's blind motivation, he becomes angry if the truth is held from him. Anger is a serious flaw in his character because it leads to Laius's death, and the false accusations to Tiresias and Creon. It is odd how motivated Oedipus is for the answer to such a terrible prophecy. Tiresias even says, 'I will not bring remorse upon myself and upon you. Why do you search these matters? Vain, Vain! I will not tell you';. Even when told this by Tiresias, the soothsayer, Oedipus demands an answer. At this moment, the reader knows that the prophecy is true but Oedipus is still blind to it. Many people say that what you do not know, will not hurt you but Oedipus does not feel the same way. He is determined for the truth, and eventually he will achieve this as he further investigates into it.
Oedipus enters the revelation stage, when he realizes that he killed his father and married his mother. This is probably the worst feeling anyone could ever have. It is the most unnatural and unthinkable act to ever commit. Oedipus's realization is so sad, for one can feel his pain by his words. He says, 'O Light, this be the last time I shall gaze on thee, who am revealed to have been born of those of whom I ought not&#8212;to have wedded whom I ought not&#8212;and slain whom I might not slay!'; He then plucks out his eyes, so he may see the sin he has committed through his children. The realization of the truth is supposed to he good. For when you are a child, to tell the truth was good, but in this case the truth is very grim. This is exactly why the truth has more of an impact on the audience. People understand the truth as being good, where as in this play the truth is bad, and Oedipus is punished for it. Oedipus's motivation takes a different course at this point as we very well can see. In the beginning his motivation was in concern with what was true. When the truth was presented to him, he was primarily concerned for his children and he asked Creon to care for his children.
     Of course by the end of the play Oedipus had no motivation, because he had no reason to live. This was a very tragic ending indeed. I admire Oedipus's character, because he took his responsibilities with honor. He tried to control his fate, but couldn't, even though his intentions were good. Oedipus's motivation had always been righteous, and yet he is punished in the end. He chose to live his life in truth, and was motivated for it. He didn't want to live it in a vague mist, and this is an honorable thing to do. Most people would say he is terrible for the acts he committed, but is it really his fault? There is nothing he could have done to change his course, for it was his destiny. I believe Oedipus to be an honorable man, and I respect him for his honesty and courage.
Return to