Oedipus the King': Reasons Why Oedipus Shouldn't Be Punished

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Sometimes the road of life takes an unexpected turn and you have no choice but to follow it to end up in the place you are supposed to be. Your fate is like a car crash an accident you never asked for but happens because it's your destiny. Sophocles highlights the irony of a man who wants to track down and execute the criminal who murdered King Laius who turns out to be himself. The play Oedipus Rex unravels King Oedipus of Thebes ' to have a life full of tragedy when he makes an effort to avoid the prophecy of killing his father and marrying his mother. Oedipus is guilty of many crimes, but this does not mean that he should be punished.

One reason that he shouldn't be punished and he wouldn't have known that his parents were Laius and Jocasta. Oedipus was provoked by Laius and he fought back in self-defense oblivious to the fact that Laius is his father. In the play, Oedipus says “The driver, and the old man himself tried to push me off the road. In anger, I struck the driver as he tried to crowd me off. When the old man saw me coming past the wheels he aimed at my head a two-pronged goad and hit me. I paid him back in full, with interest...I killed the whole lot of them'. This proved that he was not controlling his fate because he had no idea that Laius was his father; Laius was an egotistical man who left his son to die and if he didn't make that choice he wouldn't have been killed by his son, Jocasta says “It was said that Laius was fated to die by the hand of his son, a son to be born to him and me. As for the son three days after his birth, Laius fastened his ankles together and had him castaway on the pathless; mountains'. It indicates that Oedipus should not be punished because his parents were planning to take his life to live happily and Laius want to remain alive. instead of leaving their child and fleeing their destiny, they should have tried to fight the prophecy battle together. Oedipus lived a lie his whole life. He had no say in how his life will occur. His wife Jocasta attempts to make him avoid the truth of the prophecy she tells him “ why? What difference does it make? Don't think about it. Pay no attention to what he said. It makes no difference'. What Jocasta emphasizes is that Oedipus is blinded by the truth and should never discover the acts his parents committed because it wasn't his decision.

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In addition to Oedipus not knowing the truth about his parents should not cost him punishment another reason is that his fate was already destined by the gods and him cant command gods to change his fate. The message is given that determined fate. Oedipus was a victim of the various circumstances put in his way. It was beyond his control on how his life will end up, it all came down to the hands of the gods. The play says “It is not your fate to fall because of me. it's up to Apollo to make that happen. He will be enough'. As Tiresias is talking to Oedipus he is saying that the gods control Oedipus, he is saying that it isn't the king's fault if he falls and gets punished but rather Apollo who decides what his fate will be. Once fate is a load upon you there is no determining how it will play out, Tiresias quotes 'I will say nothing more. Fume on about it, if you wish, as fiercely as you can '(Tiresias. Lines 355-356). He is insisting that no matter what he does in the end fate of killing his father and marrying his mother would have played out for Oedipus. He can't change what the gods decide will happen he needs to accept that no matter how good or bad he is his prophecy would have the same encounter meaning its not his fault. The play says “But will never feel dishonored. I see myself as a child of fortune and she is generous, that mother of mine from whom l spring, and the months, my siblings, have seen me by tum both small and great. That's how was born. I cannot change to someone else, nor can I ever cease from seeking cut the fact of my birth”. When Oedipus says this it expresses he has no responsibility and shouldn't receive the punishment because it isn't his choice. There's nothing Oedipus could have done no matter the circumstances the same ideology would take place. If he had never heard of the prophecy he may have never left his home.

Many see fate as the cause that the road of life takes and emphasizes the reason why Oedipus shouldn't have received the punishment. Having said that many consider he should be punished because of his preposterous behavior and ignorance that led his fate to come to life. Oedipus has brilliance and determination that help him gain leads to Laius' murderer but also leads to his tragic fall and punishment of becoming blind and being banished. The first example is when Oedipus tries to find Laius murder and promises they would be banished. Ironically he was the killer and Tiresias tries to tell him he shouldn't find the truth because it will only create but he doesn't listen. The play says “How dreadful knowledge of the truth can be. When there’s no help in truth.”. If Oedipus had listened to Tiresias then the misery, suffering, and punishment wouldn't have gotten to him and he could have avoided the curse of being blind if he wasn't so hubris. As well as being an atrocious listener he treats those who want to avoid him for discovering the truth and belittles them making him deserve his fate and punishment. Tiresias gives him hints that he could be the killer by initiating “You call me unfeeling. If you could only see the nature of your feelings”. Instead of accepting his faults he instead blames other people such as Creon to be the killer and making him lose his biggest ally who could have helped avoid punishment. Not being a humble leader and person is what makes Oedipus live a fate of tragedy.

Ultimately fate will find its way to be apart of your life and Oedipus was no exception. He shouldn't be punished for trying to escape a fate he didn't ask for. He wants to escape a life of tragedy which in my view is not absurd or an act that deserves becoming a man who ends up blind, banished, and be both a father and sibling to his kids. How you handle situations can be mistakes that you grow to regret. However, no matter how wicked Oedipus was he didn't deserve the prophecy coming to life. Not wanting a fate the gods chose for you that leads to tragedy doesn't need to be punishable but understandable. Oedipus was one of the many men who wanted to avoid his prophecy because it was repulsive and for that, he didn't deserve half of the things that came in his life. Fate has an evil way of becoming a part of your life and it's a question on how much of that fate we deserve.

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Oedipus the King’: Reasons Why Oedipus Shouldn’t Be Punished. (2022, September 15). Edubirdie. Retrieved April 13, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/oedipus-the-king-reasons-why-oedipus-shouldnt-be-punished/
“Oedipus the King’: Reasons Why Oedipus Shouldn’t Be Punished.” Edubirdie, 15 Sept. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/oedipus-the-king-reasons-why-oedipus-shouldnt-be-punished/
Oedipus the King’: Reasons Why Oedipus Shouldn’t Be Punished. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/oedipus-the-king-reasons-why-oedipus-shouldnt-be-punished/> [Accessed 13 Apr. 2024].
Oedipus the King’: Reasons Why Oedipus Shouldn’t Be Punished [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Sept 15 [cited 2024 Apr 13]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/oedipus-the-king-reasons-why-oedipus-shouldnt-be-punished/
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