“Oedipus the King” by Sophocles

Oedipus Rex is one interesting story that leaves the reader with mixed feelings about the ill fate that followed Oedipus. The narrative ends with a sad note that leaves the reader wishing that all the effort that Oedipus and Jocasta put in ensuring that they did not end up fulfilling what the oracle had predicted about them. The essay intends to look at the life of Oedipus who is the main character of the book.

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The story is in a Greek setting where there are ancient aspects such as oracles and gods. The narrative revolves around the life of the main character called Oedipus who is born after a prophecy is made to Jocasta that she will give birth to a son who will kill his father and bear children with his mother. To avoid the fulfillment of this upsetting prophecy, once Oedipus is born Jocasta decides to get rid of him. She gives Oedipus to a herdsman who is supposed to get rid of him, her husband Laios believing that the kid had been left out in the wilderness and Jocasta believing that the servant had gotten rid of the baby that she had given him to dispose. There are many assumptions that are made as the servant also assumes that giving the baby to a Corinthian will ensure that the oracle is not fulfilled because the Corinthian would take the baby to a far off land (Friedlander, par 3).

The scheme behind all this is revealed when the people in Thebes where Oedipus is the ruler ask him to find a solution to the problems that were being encountered in Thebes because according to them, it was dying and they did not want this to happen (Foster, p 34). The people looked to him as a savior because he had solved the sphinx riddle and made him king after their ruler Laius had been murdered. The people looked beyond the fact that he was a stranger in their land. This causes Oedipus to seek help from Tiresias who was a blind prophet. Oedipus and the people want to know what is causing Thebes to experience the period of distraught and Tiresias tells them that there is a person with bad blood in Thebes who is causing this to happen. They want to know who this is but the information that Oedipus seeks to know will aggravate and bring forth secrets that were better left and Tiresias is reluctant to speak out but Oedipus forces him to speak. He reveals despite his wish to remain silent that Oedipus is the bad blood. This makes Oedipus angry because he cannot understand how he sis the bad blood while all he wants is to have Thebes restored to its former state. He suspects that Tiresias and Creon, who is Jocasta’s brother, have plotted together so that Croats can take over the ruling of the kingdom by having him killed.

Creon denies these allegations with reason because he has ownership of a third of the kingdom and is not interested in ruling it. While the two are arguing, Jocasta walks in, breaks the arguments, and seeks to find out why the two were arguing. Oedipus tells her and she calms him down by telling him that oracles are not always true (Mitchell-Boyask, par 8),. She tells him her story and instead of Oedipus finding peace in it, he sets an investigation to find out who murdered Liaos so that he could be honored since his death was not investigated as it occurred at a period when the people were trying to sort out the riddle. He intends to find the murderer and send him to exile because he is told that during the murder, one of the people who had accompanied Liaos survived and he could describe and point out the killer. However, before the survivor arrives, it is made known to him that Liaos was killed where a road forked into three paths. This makes him uneasy since he also had killed a group of men when he was fleeing from his home in Corinth after the oracle was revealed to him that he would kill his father and then bed his mother and have kids with her. Nevertheless, the elders console him by telling him that a gang had killed Liaus.

A messenger from Corinth arrives and informs him that his father in Corinth had died and that the people wanted him to replace him but Oedipus would not go fearing that he would end up fulfilling what the oracle had said about him. He narrates this oracle to the messenger and he is told that he was not the real son of the rulers so there was no possible reason as to how the oracle could be fulfilled. The survivor arrives and he doesn’t want to reveal what the rest are doubting but he is made to say that he had given the child to a Corinth and with these the people discover that the oracle had been fulfilled. Jocasta kills herself after this and Oedipus digs at his eyes with her brooches making himself blind. He goes to exile a blind man and Creon takes care of his two daughters. This narrative brings out a clear message that once your destiny has been formulated, there is no way you can change that.

Works Cited

Mitchell-Boyask, Robin. Study Guide for Sophocles’ Oedipus the King, 2002. Web.

Foster, C. Thomas. “How to Read Literature Like a Professor” New York: HarperCollins, 2003.

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Friedlander, Ed. “Oedipus the King“, by Sophocles, 2010. Web.

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