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Dealing With Fate: The Story of King Oedipus

Thebes is struck by a plague; the citizens are dying, and no one knows how to put an end to it. The people look to their great king, Oedipus to save the city. Oedipus, being a great king takes responsibility for saving the people and the great city of Thebes. As the play progresses, Oedipus comes to realize that he is the plague on the city. After realizing that he is a pawn of the Gods, Oedipus still takes responsibility for saving the city, even when the cure is the expulsion of himself.

Eventhough he expresses great anger towards the Gods or his unfortunate fate, he takes the ultimate responsibility for his actions, and for the actions of the Gods. Oedipus gives up his thrown, his family, and his sight all for the sake of Thebes, proving that he is a man of great duty and honor. At the beginning of the play, Oedipus announces his willingness and power to solve the mystery at hand. He takes it upon himself to once more, bring what is dark to light (11). He is passionate to find the killer, at first out of self motivation sighting the fact that the killer might come after him.

By avenging the murdered king I protect myself (11). When he is angered by the silence of Teiresias he decides to take the sons part, just as though I were his son… (16). Oedipus shows how passionate of a leader he is by taking a personal approach to solving the problem. He is greatly angered by Tiresias, whom he believes may be one of the conspirators. Like any passionate man, Oedipus continues to rile Tiresias up, hoping that he may gain the truth to the riddle. Eventhough in reality Tiresias does tell of what will come, Oedipus is unsatisfied.

He has grown so ardent about solving the mystery, that he doesnt ven see the truth in front of him. Even when Tieresias tells him: You mock my blindness, do you? But I say that you, with both your eyes, are blind: you cannot see the wretchedness of your life, nor in whose house you live, no, nor with whom… But the double lash of your parents curse will whip you out of this land some day, with only night upon your precious eyes (22-23). Despite the foreshadowing, Oedipus takes the advise lightly and continues his own search for justice.

Despite the disapproval of Iocasta, Oedipus continues to search for the truth of what the prophet said. Iocasta tries to ensure him that the prophets are wrong in predicting the future, and that the matter should not be further investigated. Oedipus, being a righteous man, continues to search, even when it begins to look like the answers lie within himself. When he realizes that he killed a group of men along the side of the road, mirroring the story that he had been told of the death of the king, Oedipus begins to accept his ill fate stating, … If I was created so, born to this fate, who could deny the savagery of God(44)?

He is angered by the Gods plan which has already been xecuted without him knowing it. He begins to realize the truth behind the prophecy. At this point, Oedipus could ignore the new information that he discovered, but being an honorable man, he continues to search for the truth. At this point, Oedipus begins to take responsibility for himself on top of already taking responsibility for the city. After speaking to his last witness, Oedipus uncovers the real truth: he is the son of Laios, whom he has murdered; husband to the queen, who is his real mother. The Gods were obviously against him.

Accepting his fate, the great king knows what he must do: Ah God! It was true! All the prophecies! -Now, o light, may I look on your for the last time! I, Oedipus, Oedipus, damned in his birth, in his marriage damned, damned in the blood he shed with his own hand (64)! Oedipus takes a knife and gouges out his eyes. He begins making the arrangements for his exile, apologizing for his fate and for his actions. He claims that though Apollo ordained his fate, it was him who pierced his own eyes. His banishment allows the rest of his destiny to finally be his own. In exile, Oedipus finally has his freedom.

As he promised at the beginning of the lay, he has saved Thebes, the cost of which is his sight, his fortune, and his power. He leaves Thebes the same way as when he had first come, as a hero, whether others recognize him as one or not. He again saves the city, but his actions previous actions which come to light have made him appear to be anything but a hero. Oedipus is not a perfect man. He has excessive pride and is very self-righteous in a many of his actions. He is not a super hero, and does nothing that any man in his position couldnt do. Yet, continues to hold certain traits during the entire course of the plays.

Oedipus shows great strength and courage in the face of disaster. As the net of guilt tightens on him with each revelation about the truth of the prophecy, Oedipus remains strong and resolved. Every step he takes to solve the mystery of Laios’ murder brings him closer to self exposure, yet he never hesitates to pursue that truth. He continues to be honorable. When the last piece of the puzzle falls into place, Oedipus the detective has become Oedipus the criminal (Knox). But his courage and strength help him endure the pain and suffering that come with knowledge of hat he has done.

Oedipus eventually realizes that even though he has sight, that he could not see. This is the reason that he takes his own eyes, for it is the only way for him to see the truth which lies inside of him. His spiritual blindness that lead to ignorance of the past, is replaced by physical blindness. He may be blind, but he can now see. He leaves his kingdom and he imparts on a journey of which the fate of is unknown to him. He proves his honor as a ruler through the actions which he takes on his own, not reflecting the plan of the Gods.

At any point, Oedipus could have ceased to pursue the truth which he eventually saw leading towards him. At any time, Oedipus, having the power which he had, could have had another man executed or banished for his crimes. Instead, Oedipus took the ultimate responsibility, paying whatever price it meant. In the end, Oedipus saves the city of Thebes twice: once from the great Sphinx who plagued the land, and once from himself. To Oedipus, country came before any individualistic rights or privileges. The truth did eventually set the great king Oedipus free.

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