Oedipus the King': Analysis of a Play

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For this essay styled essay response, I’ve decided to combine two of the three questions I’ll be answering into one whole response since I find my response of both questions to be one that I can combine into a singular response to fluidly move into my next essay response as I’ll be discussing on the chorus overall with the addition to my two answers. So, with this being said, the two questions I’d like to answer are that of the chorus, and how they play their role in the play. The first of which being on what they say in lines 955-997, and how that brings concern over Oedipus and others turning away from the gods, while the other being to analyze the last line of the play, which is spoken from the chorus themselves. Now to start us off, let’s take a look at what exactly does lines 955-997 brings us out of the play. It states that “Destiny guides me always. Destiny find me filled with reverence pure in word and deed. Great laws tower above us, reared on high born for the brilliant vault of heaven, Olympian Sky their only father, nothing mortal, no man gave them birth, their memory deathless, never lost in sleep: within them lives a mighty god, the god does not grow old. Pride breeds the tyrant violent pride, gorging, crammed to bursting with all that is overripe and rich with ruin clawing up to the heights, headlong crashes down the abyss, sheer doom! No footing helps, all foothold lost and gone. But the healthy strife that makes the city strong, I pray that god will never end that wrestling: god my champion, I will never let you go. But if any man comes striding, high and mighty in all he says and does, no fear of justice, no reverence for the temples of the gods, let a rough doom tear him down, repay his pride, breakneck, ruinous pride! If he cannot restrain himself form outrage, mad, laying hands on the untouchable!

Can such a man, so desperate, still boast he can save his life from the flashing bolts of god? If all such violence goes with honor now why join the sacred dance? Never again will I go reverent to Delphi, the inviolate heart of Earth or Apollo’s ancient oracle at Abae or Olympia of the fires, unless these prophecies all come true for all mankind to point toward in wonder. King of kings, if you deserve your titles Zeus, remember, never forget! You and your deathless, everlasting reign, they are dying, the old oracles sent to Laius, now our masters strike them off the rolls. Nowhere Apollo’s golden glory now, the gods, the gods go down” (Sophocles, lines 955-997). The Chorus themselves only signs of reaction when it comes to certain events going on in the story. An example of this is when they pled to Oedipus to not banish Creon in the quotes of “Believe it, be sensible give way, my king, I beg you!” and “Respect him, he’s been no fool in the past and now he’s strong with the oath he swears to god.” (Sophocles, lines 725-229). They’re also given the last word in the play, as mentioned earlier, to speak upon the audience members as if they were to be the people of Thebes with the quote of “Count no man happy till he dies, free of pain at last.” (Sophocles, line 1684). Now with the Chorus being a group of characters instead of being a sole character being the one’s giving off this last statement to the audience, the play overall comes to an end with leaving the audience feeling as if Oedipus dies when the curtains close, but in reality its for the audience to come around and realize that Oedipus doesn’t die, but instead continue his blinded journey with the audience away from Thebes heading towards the unknown future ahead of him.

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For this essay response, I am going to answer the question of just what exactly is the character flaws in Oedipus is that ultimately causes his downfall. Firstly, when the plague starts taking over the land of Thebes, Oedipus wants to be the one who protects his people from the disease but is warned by Creon after returning from meeting with an oracle on the matter that the killer of the former ruler of Thebes has returned and for the plague to come to an end, this mysterious killer must be dealt with. Granted, Oedipus doesn’t know he himself is the killer he’s looking for, this sign of bravery shows that he is loyal to his people, and shows that he would put his life on the line in order to stop the plague from happening, even if it meant by killing a certain someone in the process, even though that person soon turns out to be himself, as I just mentioned before. Oedipus calls upon the blind prophet Tiresias for advice, but it turns out that Tiresias himself doesn’t want to speak the truth knowing that Oedipus isn’t aware of the truthful prophecy that overlines his whole life, which makes himself out to being responsible for the plague. The blinded prophet tries to prevent Oedipus from finding out the truth but is pressured into talking about it all by Oedipus himself. Oedipus is furious after hearing what Tiresias had to say, thinking that both he and/or Creon were out against him to overtake his throne, in which Creon responds to this claim by stating “Look at you, sullen in yielding, brutal in your rage, you will go too far. It’s perfect justice: nature like yours are hardest on themselves.” (Sophocles, lines 746-748), which is him telling Oedipus that his worst enemy is his own anger and rage. This point can be drawn even further by Jocasta when speaking to Oedipus shortly after the blunder with Creon states “Why this rage? You’re so unbending.” (Sophocles, lines 769-770), for only Oedipus to claim that he only respects her and no one else as he points towards to chorus and overall claims that he’s blaming Creon for his anger. Nevertheless, Oedipus’s actions are normally caused by his ragefully aggression. Granted when it came to the point where he himself was being pushed around by the king’s servants, he had the complete right to feel aggravated, but he instead decided to overreact and near kill all of the men out of his ragefully manner. “Short work, by god, with one blow of the staff in this right hand I knock him out of his high seat, roll him out of the wagon, sprawling headlong, I killed them all, every mother’s son!”.


Overall, and to finally conclude this test over Sophocles tale of Oedipus, the character himself seems to feel that he has a strongful sense of pride in his nature, that when pushed in the wrong way, could end up causing him to go mad. Thus, making his pride be the reason of his anger, his pride being the overall reason for his downfall.

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Oedipus the King’: Analysis of a Play. (2022, September 15). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 26, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/oedipus-the-king-analysis-of-a-play/
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Oedipus the King’: Analysis of a Play. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/oedipus-the-king-analysis-of-a-play/> [Accessed 26 May 2024].
Oedipus the King’: Analysis of a Play [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Sept 15 [cited 2024 May 26]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/oedipus-the-king-analysis-of-a-play/

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