Do you have a great understanding of “Oedipus the King”? The understanding provoked by reading this story is not accidental but intentional. Sophocles wants the reader to walk away with condemnation and regret. The reader can not help but to walk away from the book with a better understanding of fate. The knowledge gained is going to be different for each reader. To understand the story, an eye examination must take place. A diagnosis of each character’s function and true self must be performed. Unless, the reader puts on his or her lenses of interpretation they will suffer from
First, the main character, Oedipus according to the story is the greatest of men and the solver of riddles. Well, Oedipus can only solve the riddle of his own origins by revealing a truth too awful to bear. Knowledge is power but the insight gained from the knowledge is painful. Oedipus is the perfect example of this philosophy. Oedipus’ strive to see everything blinded him but even in his blindness he still searched for answers. Christopher Nassaar writes, “Oedipus is thus the patron saint of philosophers, scientists, poets and artists – of all truth-seekers. Like
Mulder and Scully in the X Files, Oedipus knows ‘the truth is out there’, but unlike them, he doesn’t expect to have his eyesight restored for next week’s episode”(187)! Nassaar also writes, “Oedipus is an inspiration for mankind: he must find out the truth at whatever cost, and then accept the full responsibility for the knowledge he has discovered. Knowledge plus pain is better than Ignorance plus bliss” (187). Is Oedipus fate predetermined? No, all the choices made are by Oedipus. He chose to send Creon to Delphi, to listen to the priest, to ask for Teiresias, to have the Old Shepherd etched.
And his blinding was freely chosen, not unchosen. Sophocles needed Oedipus to appear as a wise person. In order to do this he had him solve the riddle of the Sphinx. During this time period only the wise and divine Secondly, Jocasta, the wife and mother of Oedipus is the perfect character “Jocasta is a victim in Oedipus Rex, but not as much as she is a catalyst for Oedipus’ own victimization. She keeps her faith throughout and tries to relieve Oedipus of his. Because of this, readers may in turn pity her and loathe her.
But the gods tested the king of Thebes through her – the main oal of the play – and both he and she failed. ”(Boyer, “Jocasta The Pawn…” Throughout the play, Jocasta tested the beliefs of those around her by feigning disbelief in the gods herself. At the beginning of the play she can be seen carrying garlands and incense to the altar and tries to appeal to Apollo to purify the city. Later, she denies her belief in the gods totally. “While her faith remains strong, her task from the gods is to test the faiths of others, especially that of Oedipus, which she does” (Boyer, “Jocasta The Pawn…” 57).
Boyer also writes, “Why, then, would Jocasta be orced to perform such a dubious task for the gods? It is because she tried to avoid an earlier prophecy. By tying her child’s feet together and casting him out, she attempted to defeat the gods, and this of course angered them. Her punishment, then, was to test the beliefs of the very child she cast out”(“Jocasta the Pawn…” 57). All in all Jocasta is the perfect suspect for the outcome of everyone’s fate. Thirdly, Creon, is the bother-in-law of Oedipus. He is the perfect example that the first will be last and the last first.
At the beginning of the tory Creon is a messenger who is sent to Oracle at Delphi for an answer. Sophocles uses Creon as a pawn to block the king’s path. As a pawn, he is only used to spark a flame of angry inside of Oedipus. Creon is very successful in putting Oedipus in checkmate. In the end he has taken the throne and now sits in rule. Creon now has the power to send Oedipus as a Teiresias who is beckon upon by Oedipus sets the action in motion. Teiresias should be seen as a defensive chess piece in favor of Oedipus. In Oedipus’ eyes Teiresias is just a blind beggar who knows nothing.
The truth is that even though he is blind, he sees and knows all. Putting too much emphasis on Tiersias is not important because he only used as a pendulum to set the clock in motion and to keep it moving. In this game of chess, the shepherd would be recognized as the queens piece because he is free to move all over the board and is very vital to the “Who ever really thinks about the Old Shepherd in this play? His part in the story is extremely vital though. He took the three-day old baby from Jocasta, who had told him to kill it.
He claimed he couldn’t bear to kill t, and gave it instead to his fellow shepherd from Corinth, from the other side of Mount Cithaeron. He was one of King Laius’ escorts when he went on his fateful visit to the oracle at Delphi, and witnessed the killing of his master by Oedipus. He spread the story that a gang of thieves (and told Creon and Jocasta this story) killed King Laius. He realized that the new king of Thebes was the killer of the previous one and asked Jocasta if he could be sent away from the palace. ‘He was a good slave – he deserved that favor and much more.
Of course he did, she knew how helpful he’d been in disposing of her unwanted child! ) When forced to, he confessed to Oedipus that he had failed to kill him as a baby, and given him to the Corinthian instead” (Morwitz, “On the Road to Boeotia” 15). Morwitz also writes, “But the more you think about him, the more wretched he seems – a miserable little man too squeamish to carry out the orders to kill the baby” (15). –Morwitz holds the perfect stance on the characterization The Choragos play a minor role in the story. They only question what is going on.
For example the Choragos asks Oedipus, “Doer of horror, how did you bear to quench your vision? What divinity raised your hand” (Sophocles, “Oedipus the King” 1272)? Sophocles used this character as a way to emphasize the importance of what was going on during that time. Lowell Edmund writes, “Why didn’t the Thebans simply shoot the sphinx with arrows rather than stand by and see their fellow citizens devoured? Ridiculous” (“The Sphinx…” 72) The Sphinx was used by Sophocles’ as an attacker so that Thebes could be saved. A Sphinx is a rather large reature, giving it the image of terror.
Therefore setting in motion the events to come. Sophocles needed a scapegoat for this action so he chose to use the Sphinx. Had this story been written in medieval times, a dragon Sophocles constructed these characters modeling them after real humans. So the understanding that the reader grasp becomes different for each reader. A reader must put on his or her lenses of interpretation in order to see straight. The reader must understand that sight is not always great and that being blind really opens you eyes to the truth with in oneself.