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Oedipus - Short Analysis

Uploaded by kalvinklen on Nov 07, 2001

“This is the king who solved the famous riddle...Yet in the end ruin swept over him.” As a marionette to fate and the prophecies, Oedipus grappled with the most satanic of adversities with steadfast fortitude. Perhaps this primitive search for truth, the origin of pestilence, was a tragic blunder? Or did he have any choice but to solve the riddle? Considering his position of power (a deliberate irony on the part of Sophocles), another selection he lacked. But to what extent was he controlled by fate? By free-will?

The fate of Oedipus was set in a divine merciless sequence. The state was wrought with pestilence, the poor at the feet of the lord. Teiresias, distraught by his own knowledge, cannot bear to tell Oedipus the grim truth: “Let me go home…It is better so: trust what I say.” At this point, a sane interpretation of Oedipus would declare his next decision the cause of his ultimate demise: “What! You do know something, and will not tell us?” However, what else could a virtuous ruler do? He knew the cause of impoverishment was to be found at the very tip of Teiresias’s tongue; if he heeded the prophet’s advice and ceased pestering for truth, the pestilence of the state would continue unalleviated. For this reason, he could not simply allow Teiresias to leave. However, by his unwavering persistence at intellectual extraction, Oedipus unearths the devastating truth- inevitable.

But what of catharsis? Catharsis (of the reader) was a large motive in the Greek tragedy and thus would have an influence on the story. Hypothetically, if Oedipus were controlled completely by fate and the gods, leaving him powerless to his own end, then edipus would have no hamartia, or character flaw. With no hamartia, Oedipus would not be afflicted with suffering caused by his own doing, rather suffering by the gods. Hence, when he proceeds with blinding himself and suffering and ultimately redemption, the reader may feel no catharsis but instead anger towards the gods and fate. How must one weigh these themes of free-will and fate?

Oedipus meant only good. Granted, he was overly proud and at times ignorant, but only for the sake of his people did he wish to live. His bravery was petrified by fate, leaving him to act by a stymied free-will.

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Uploaded by:   kalvinklen

Date:   11/07/2001

Category:   Literature

Length:   2 pages (384 words)

Views:   1350

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