In King Oedipus By Sophocles, Oedipus is doomed to fail in life from the very beginning. Like all tragic heroes Oedipus is destined to suffer and fall. When Oedipus was a child Oedipus’s parents, Laius and Jocasta (the king a Queen of Thebes), got news from an oracle that their son is going to kill his father and marry his mother. Laius and Jocasta try to prevent this from happening by giving their son to one of Laius’s servants and tell him to leave Oedipus on Mount Cithaeron with his feet pinned together.
They do this because they don’t have the heart to kill their son, so they send him off to a place where he will die. The messenger himself doesn’t want to leave Oedipus to die and he gives Oedipus to a shepherd. That shepherd then gives Oedipus to the king and queen of Corinth, Polybus and Merope, who will then raise Oedipus. He later leaves Corinth and eventually becomes king of Thebes. Oedipus’s prophecy forms the path of his life and all of his actions lead to his fate.
In the play King Oedipus by Sophocles, Oedipus’s actions are predetermined by his fate, but because of his lack of knowledge, or his “blindness”, and his ambition to do the right thing he should be judged solely on his intentions rather than his actions. Oedipus’s ambition to the right thing and his flaw as a tragic hero, which is “blindness” and means that he has lack of knowledge of the truth, are the reason why he should be judged on his intentions . When Oedipus is being raised by Polybus and Merope a drunk man comes up to him one day and says he is not his father’s son.
Oedipus is curious if this was true or not so he decides to ask his parents to tell him the true. His parents were, “bitterly that anyone should dare to put such a story about”(Sophocles 47). It is at this point in Oedipus’s life when he becomes “blind” because now he believes that they are his real parents when they are not. After talking with parents he then goes to Pytho, an oracle, who then tells him his prophecy that he will marry his mother and kill his father. Based on the false information from his step parents, Oedipus is now worried that he is going to kill Polybus and marry Merope.
Oedipus later recalls his actions and says , “I fled away, putting the stars between me and Corinth, never to see home again, that no such horror should ever come to pass”(Sophocles 47). This action of fleeing Corinth is based on his intention, which is trying to save his parents from suffering and to prevent any “horror” from happening. Oedipus has the ambition to flee his fate but rather because of his “blindness” to the fact that Polybus and Merope aren’t his real parents his action actually pushes him closer to his fate.
This proves that his actions are predestined and that he should be judged based on his intentions of trying to save people and himself from suffering. Oedipus originally tries to escape his fate by leaving Corinth and coming to Thebes, but because of his “blindness” he is not aware he is coming into the place where his real parents live. As a result he ends up killing his father and marrying his mother. This becomes known to him when the Shepherd says he gave Oedipus to Polybus and Merope. Oedipus responds by yelling, “Alas! All out! All known, no more concealment! O Light! May I never look on you again”(Sophocles 58).
Oedipus has now realized that there is no escaping your fate and that the prophecy is true. Now he knows the mistakes that he has made are because he was “blind” to the information about his true parents. The line “O Light! May I never look on you again” is saying he was blinded from the truth and is foreshadowing what he is going to do next. What he actually does next is he goes to find Jocasta but finds that she has hanged herself. Oedipus’s intention to leave his parents to prevent them from suffering actually caused his real parents to suffer so much that one of the hanged themselves.
He then takes the pins off of Jocasta’s dress, “ and thrusts, from full arm’s length, into his eyes – Eyes that should see no longer his shame, his guilt, no longer see those they should never have seen”(Sophocles 61). He is making himself blind because he has been blind through the whole play figuratively and now to punish himself and to suffer he makes himself blind literally. Oedipus wants his eyes to “no longer see those they should never have seen”, meaning his eyes should never have seen Laius and Jocasta in the first place.
His intentions were to spare his parents from suffering, but his predetermined actions are the opposite of what he intended which is why he should be judge on his intentions, which he has control over, rather than some he does not have control of. Oedipus’s thought process behind his intentions is based on lack of all the information, which as a result his actions produced from these intentions lead him closer to his fate. Oedipus’s intentions have the ambition to do the right thing. The main reason why these intentions don’t succeed is because he is “blind”, for example, “blind” to the truth of who is real parents are.
As a result of this “blindness” to the truth, he leaves Corinth to get away from his “parents” who aren’t actually his parents. This then proves that his actions are predetermined by his fate, and that he should not be judged based on his actions because he has no control over them. Oedipus initially thinks he can control his fate by running away from it but realizes that he has been blind because the truth is “concealed” from him. The overall message or theme that is taught through Oedipus is that fate can not be avoided and that an intention may seem good but it may actually be bad if you’re blinded from the truth behind your ambition.