Oedipus the King is a tragedy written by Sophocles. Oedipus’ tragic flaw is his overwhelming pride. Oedipus initially had no idea that he was fulfilling the words of prophecy but then believed that he had brought about the prophesies himself, becoming far too proud of himself. Oedipus became so overcome with a sense of pride that he began to believe that the murder of King Laius was his own doing.
Oedipus, without knowing it, kills his father and marries his mother which eventually leads to the fulfillment of the curse on his family (his sons will kill one another and Oedipus will end up gouging out his eyes). Oedipus’ ignorance of who he truly was causes him to make many mistakes and does not allow him to understand what’s happening around him.
The use of dramatic irony plays a major role in Oedipus The King because Oedipus is unaware that all these events are taking place due to actions caused by himself; only when the truth finally unfolds before Oedipus does he realize the mistakes he has made. Oedipus’ ignorance and the associated dramatic irony create a sense of pity from the audience towards Oedipus as they understand how Oedipus feels being so ignorant to his true self. The first example is Oedipus’s meeting with an old man at a crossroads who is requesting help from Oedipus to be moved into town.
Oedipus offers him help however when questioned by the old man Oedipus is rude and accuses him of being useless, saying that he should have thought about this before now (Lloyd-Jones, 2001). With no knowledge over who Oedipus was, the audience knows Oedipus is unaware that he is talking to his father. Oedipus then curses the murderer of Laius who killed him at a crossroads, Oedipus doesn’t realize that Oedipus himself was the murderer (Lloyd-Jones, 2001). Oedipus’ ignorance over these events creates pity from the audience as they understand Oedipus feels as though he has been cursed by his actions.
Oedipus thinks Creon is trying to trick him into thinking Jocasta is dead, Oedipus doesn’t believe it and says “you are dishonoring me Creon” (Grene & Lattimore, 2011). Oedipus accuses Creon of trying to kill him due to Oedpius’ claim of Jocasta being murdered, Oedipus again doesn’t realize he is the murderer. Oedipus brings up a point that if what Creon said was true then it would mean Oedipus killed his mother, Oedipus again shows ignorance as to why this would make him a murderer (Lloyd-Jones, 2001).
Oedipus claims he must be tricking Oepdius as only Oepdius knows who committed the crime, however, Oepdius states that if anyone else knew they would have gone straight to Oepdius as opposed to just “standing around” (Grene & Lattimore, 2011). This is Oedpius’ last example of ignorance to Oedipus, Oepdius has two dreams one where he kills his father and marries his mother, and another in which Oepdius is smothered in a cloud and the chorus attempt to reassure Oepdius that this dream does not mean anything (Lloyd-Jones, 2001). Oedipus ignores the cries of the animals and Creon’s warning.
Oedipus brings up a point that if what they say is right then it means Oedipus would “marry” Jocasta but also kill her, Oepdius doesn’t quite understand why this would happen however it makes Oedipus become very hostile towards everyone else (Lloyd-Jones, 2001). Oedipus brings up another point that Oepdius’ children (Eteocles and Polynices) would kill one another; Oedipus begins to think of all the possibilities of what this dream could mean. Oedipus realizes only Jocasta can give Oepdius the answers he desires, Oedipus believes Jocasta will be able to tell him if his dreams are true or not (Lloyd-Jones, 2001).
Oedipus is unaware that Oepdius has committed crimes that have caused all these events to happen which leaves Oepdius feeling very confused as Oedip thinks everyone is conspiring against him. Oedipus begins to realize he is the murderer, after all, Oedipus realizes he must have killed his father when Oepdius was a young man and Oepdius’ mother when Oedipus was born (Lloyd-Jones, 2001). Oedipus then says “my birth is my accuser” (Grene & Lattimore, 2011), Oedipus realizes that everyone else could be correct however it still doesn’t make any sense because Oedipus knows he did not kill his father.
Oedipus thought that he had brought about this great plague simply by being born and believes himself responsible for the death of Laius. Oedipus is so overcome with a sense of pride in what he believes he has brought about, not only does Oedipus take responsibility but Oedipus takes on punishment from all who have been affected by the plague thus far simply due to Oedipus believing that it is all his fault when in reality it is not.
Oedipus’ belief in a prophecy made before Oedipus was even born leads Oedipus to believe his actions are the cause of all the bad things that Oedipus believes has happened. Oedipus does not regret his actions and is primarily concerned with reassuring everyone else in Thebes that Oedipus’ intentions were pure, Oedipus tries to convince the others that he did everything for them. Oedipus is obsessed with these thoughts about what Oedipus has done because Oedipus believes Oedipus is responsible for all the misfortune in Thebes.
Oedipus cares more about how other people view Oedipus than how Oedipus feels about what has happened ultimately leading to Oepidus being blind sided by his blindness, thus becoming even less capable of recognizing his feelings or accurately perceiving the world Oedipus is in. Oedipus’ blindness becomes a symbol of Oedipus’s ignorance and Oedipus’ ignorance is Oedipus’s downfall, Oedipus ultimately brings this all on himself by believing what he wants to believe and ignoring what everyone else around Oedipal has been trying to tell Oedipal about his past.
Oedipus is a tragic hero because he possesses nobility and intelligence, Oedipus’ intelligence is what created his downfall. Oedipus thought that the plague was caused by him only when Oedipus questioned Tiresias did Oedipus learn of his actual fate. Othello did not know of the plot and if Shakespeare would have included this information in the play Othello would not feel this extreme guilt throughout…
I can’t even get past half of this sentence without my head spinning… This is why we read books instead of making our own books. Please don’t make it more complicated than it needs to be!
Thesis: Sophocles creates rising action by asking dramatic questions throughout Oedipus The King. These questions generate suspense in the audience when they become dramatic irony and amplify the climax. During the falling action Oedipus is engulfed in misery when he experiences a reversal of fortune. Oedipus goes through a discovery process ending when he discovers his tragic resolution.
Sophocles creates rising action by asking dramatic questions throughout Oedipus The King. These questions generate suspense in the audience when they become dramatic irony and amplify the climax.
During the falling action Oedipus is engulfed in misery when he experiences a reversal of fortune. Oedipus goes through a discovery process ending when he discovers his tragic resolution.