Oedipus Rex

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The play Oedipus Rex has been constructed on the basis of a Theban myth. Sophocles produced this masterpiece of classical tragedy in 429 BC with other two tragedies together as a trilogy. Most of the critics and playwrights since classical times have been epitomizing this tragedy to be a perfect instance of assembling all the elements of drama described by Aristotle. In this essay, the dramatic sequence of Oedipus Rex will be adjudged by a cosmic jury. The jury indicts King Oedipus and queen Jocasta for the catastrophe in this play. In fact, fate is the antagonist who executed its evil plans through King Oedipus. As the play reaches its ending, it becomes somewhat horrific and instead of generating cathartic feeling among the audience it makes them petrified. However, the cause of nemesis of Oedipus is his ignorance of past that heavily affects his present finally dooming his future.
The situation of King Oedipus can be perceived from two points of view. Firstly, time or fate or destiny keeps toying with the life of Oedipus without his knowledge. Every decision he made to escape his fatal destiny leads him towards it. In fact, according the Theban myth, Oedipus is predestined since the sinful act of kidnapping and raping Chrysippus by the Oedipus’s father Laius in his youth. This not only doomed Laius and Oedipus but also their following generations. Prophesies have been the driving forces of this play. But somehow the over-intriguing nature of Oedipus helps the evil planning of fate. The prophesies of oracles are not merely anticipated messages of future events, rather they are the cautions by the fate that time by time it kept conveying to the protagonist of the play and every time Oedipus misinterpreted them and took catastrophic decisions to realize the doomed ending. The play is a true Athenian drama inculcating the Greek religious values through the enactment of a famous myth projected by the great dramatist Sophocles.
The myth was known to all audience. Thus delineating this story into a drama was a challenge for Sophocles. Jocasta has been charged for the catastrophe of this play because she conveyed half-truth, the death of Lias was already destined then by their (Lias and her) child, to Oedipus when the people of Thebes were heavily suffering from plague. He solved the riddle of Sphynx to free Thebes from her curse and instead he became the ultimate curse for the kingdom. The hamartia of Oedipus has been his sheer ignorance of every consequential event that conditioned his future. What makes it fatal is in spite of having no knowledge Oedipus continued his actions. It would not be correct to say that Oedipus lacked knowledge. When he suspected his foster parents and questioned Oracles of Delphi for truth, they conveyed the ultimate fate of Oedipus. It means he was very much aware of his future, but some missing links or incomplete knowledge left Oedipus to ponder over.
In the very beginning of the play, the Creon informed Oedipus that the plague is a curse heralded by the murderer of the former king, and accordingly Oedipus vowed to resolve it. For further clarification, he consulted Tiresias, a blind prophet, and he dismissed Oedipus by refusing to speak the truth and warned him to stop probing. This has an uncanny connection with an event in Oedipus’s life when he had not been satisfied by the assertion made by his foster parents about being his biological parents. At that point of time, he did not listen to them and in the consequent journey, as decided by fate; he killed his biological father and king of Thebes Laius. However, Oedipus got angry due to audacity of Tiresias and during the heated argument Tiresias revealed that Oedipus himself was the murderer. This is how Oedipus helped the fate to succeed over and thus rightfully indicted for the doomed ending of the play.
However, at the time of conveying half-truth to Oedipus, Jocasta was also unaware of Oedipus’s real identity and with the eventual revelation forced Oedipus to suspect over the statement of enraged Tiresias. At last from the shepherd from the household of Laius completed the search for truth for Oedipus as the cause of Theban plague was clear to him. Immediately after this denouement, Jocasta committed suicide.
Aristotle used this text to explicate his famous theories for the genre of tragedy. Oedipus is an ideal tragic character with relevant tragic flaw. The weaving of plot of this tragedy is very neat and fine and for Sophocles it was a challenge to dramatize such popular and religiously valued myth. The indicted character Oedipus called the fatal doom over himself as well as on Thebes by his ignorance of his surroundings. On the other hand, Oedipus cannot be completely blamed as this apocalyptic ending is only a part of chained reaction triggered by Laius many years ago.