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Essay on Oedipus the King Analysis

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In the beginning, I want to introduce background information about Sophocles. He is the most famous playwright of ancient Greece. He is one of the three tragic writers in Athens. He does not only believe in the supreme power of God and destiny but also requires people to have an independent spirit and be responsible for their own actions, which is the feature of ideology in the period of democratic political prosperity in Athens. Sophocles lived between 496 and 406 B.C. at the height of Athenian democracy. Sophocles himself supported the Athenian democracy, demanded that the interests of the city-state be the most important, and emphasized the spirit of individual independence; on the other hand, his religious concept was more conservative and advocated maintaining the existing prophet system and Oracle system. These two points are shown in the play Oedipus king. For example, he used the Delphic Oracle as the beginning of the story, which was also explained by both the Pythia and the Chorus in this play. His representative works include Oedipus king, Antigone, Oedipus in Colonus, the young girl of Tethys, etc. But today I want particular to talk about Oedipus the king. Sophocles used an old legend that God's will cursed the royal family members as the foreshadowing of the whole play. The beginning with Oracle embodies the unique charm of dramatic conflict. And from this foreshadowing, I find that there are two most important turning points in the whole drama, which I will explain one by one later. The legend itself contains the ethical taboo of 'killing the father and marrying the mother'. Both 'killing the father' and 'marrying the mother' violate the basic ethical norms of human beings.

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As the play begins, the citizen of Thebans City went to the Palace and begged their king to help the city and help them solve the plague. And the king sends his brother-in-law to the oracle of Apollo at Delphi to ask the Pythia what should be done to solve the plague. When he returns, Creon announces that the Delphi Oracle instructs them to find the murderer of Laius. The discovery and punishment of the murderer will end the plague. Oedipus is set to work immediately. King Oedipus severely cursed the murderer and ordered the whole country to trace him. But the prophet said that Oedipus himself was the murderer, and the truth was uncertain. In fact, Delphic Oedipus was born with an Oracle saying that he would kill his father and marry his mother in the future, so he was cut through his heel by wire and abandoned in the wild. It was only because the shepherd who carried out the order took pity that he survived. Then came the first of the important turning points that I said before when she mentioned the appearance, age, number of attendants, and the dead time of Laius. According to Jocasta's description, Oedipus knows that the king had died at a fork in the road before. He suddenly thought that he had been at the fork in the road before, and he quarreled with an old man and killed him by mistake. (Segment 12. Jocasta respond 53 mins) All these proved that Oedipus was the murderer of Laius, but Oedipus did not think that the man was his father. Then the second clue was that when the two shepherds met, the shepherd told Oedipus that he was not the son of Prussia. When the two herdsmen meet, the two clues are intertwined, and the truth is revealed. (Segment 22. Shepherd's Story 1 hour 20 mins) These experiences of Oedipus coincide with the Oracle's saying that killing the father and marrying the mother. His doom of killing his father and marrying his mother came true, but he knew nothing about it. In this tragedy, Oedipus tried to avoid the disaster, but he still couldn't escape his fate.

In his plays, Sophocles shows that the king of Oedipus is not only a hero but also a noble character. Oedipus is intelligent, honest, upright, and brave. He is brave to challenge and fight against unreasonable fate. However, fate doomed such an outstanding person to be a sinner. He had to bear the guilt of his predecessors and be punished by misfortune. In fact, all these were caused by fate's teasing and Oedipus's self-will. But he also has shortcomings. He is suspicious and irascible. People like Oedipus are not very good, but they are not very bad. Such a human role is closer to ordinary people, making readers more empathic. Oedipus had a conflict with his biological father at the crossroads. Because he was angry and impulsive, he killed his father, which was also his fault for his behavior. In fact, he didn't want to kill his father, but in that case, he didn't know the truth and the impulse could not be restrained. So he killed his biological father at his fault His tragedy also began with negligence. Compared with Oedipus's complex, tragic consciousness, self-destruction spirit, and so on, I prefer the view that this great work is Sophocles' questioning and Reflection on fate.

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