1) How does Oedipus treat those who are reluctant to obey him throughout the play? What does this tell you about his character? From the very beginning of the play we see that Oedipus, like many in power, does not handle well people who are reluctant to follow his lead. He often threatens to harm those who are reluctant to obey in some way or he publicly insults them. He makes a general warning statement about those who are reluctant to obey him because he is the king. He says that he will wish a plaque upon their houses and their livestock. Yet, he is a very reluctant person himself.
Where he is not reluctant to obey, he is reluctant to listen. He is given words and advice that he needs to wisely consider and he does not. Throughout the play we didn’t see people actually disobey Oedipus, but he sees their unwelcome truths as people on the edge of treason. In one example, Oedipus is told that the blind prophet, Tiresias, would deliver the name of his father’s killer. When Tiresias tells him that he is in fact the cause of his father’s bloodshed, Oedipus threatens him even though Tiresias had proven himself to be trustworthy.
When given this news, Oedipus also thinks that Creon had set this up as a way to acquire Oedipus’ throne. In a second example, when the elderly herdsman tells him that Oedipus was not his own son, but was given to him by Laius Oedipus is reluctant to accept that he has actually carried out the prophecy that he thought he had run long enough to avoid. 2)In what ways is Oedipus a good king? In what ways is he a good person? How do these virtues result in negative consequences for Oedipus? How does this relate to the city of Thebes? I would say that the virtues that Oedipus had qualified him as a good king regarding intentions.
When he returned to the city of Thebes and defeated the enemy, he wants his people to enjoy the peace that still has not come after the chaos of war. The play opens on Oedipus making a promise to avenge the death of his people’s previous king. He says that he will ensure that the one who caused Laius’ bloodshed will experience bloodshed himself. These words of Oedipus publicly portray a king who weeks both justice for the slain Laius and protection and closure for the people of his new kingdom. In my opinion the willingness and longing to avenge and protect make for a good king and a good person.
Unfortunately these virtues hold negative consequences for Oedipus, because he was the one who killed Laius. Tragically, his promise to avenge and bring justice to his people can only be achieved with his own death. But one has to wonder if he had some suspicion of his own involvement in the murder long before he is forced to admit it. Was he blinding himself to the truth until it blinded him? He wants to make the city of Thebes a safe and peaceful place to live, but he is at war within himself. In his promise, he wants to keep Thebes safe from Laius’ murderer.
This is where the irony sets in because with his own presence in the city, he has already broken his promise. Oedipus wouldn’t physically harm a member of his city, but in his obsession for justice he is destroying the kingdom. 3) Explain the function of the character Tiresias in the play. In what ways does his presence emphasize Oedipus’ failings? How is the blindness and/or vision of other characters significant within the play? Tiresias was the blind prophet who was sent to deliver the name of Laius’ killer to Oedipus. Tiresias was a seer that brought messages from the gods. He would also deliver vague interpretations to prophecies.
The audience knows the horror of his words. We know the longer that Oedipus speaks that he is the one who is truly blind. The prophet sees into the heart of the king and the king cannot see the truth of the words that are spoken openly in front of him. Tiresias hints and speaks in riddles but the king should have both seen and heard. The presence of Tiresias serves as dramatic irony. He is a blind seer who sees all. His presence emphasizes Oedipus’ failings to open eyes and admit what he probably already fears. Tiresias gives Oedipus the answer to the question he is so desperate to answer, but Oedipus can’t accept this as true.
Maybe the king is unnerved that someone else knows and sees what he does not want to uncover within himself. Where Tiresias is physically blind, it is obvious that his eyes are opened wider than Oedipus’. This gives Tiresias the ability to see with his mind. Oedipus is metaphorically blind by ears, eyes, and mind. Even though the answers are there for him to seize, Oedipus is too blinded by his arrogance to see. 6) In what ways is Oedipus heroic? Point to specific instances in the play that demonstrates his heroism. In what ways does he fit the profile of a classic Greek tragic hero?
A hero is someone who is not afraid to put his life secondary to the lives of others, whoever they may be. At the beginning of the play Oedipus proclaims justice for the death of Laius. Oedipus claims that he will avenge Laius’ death with the bloodshed of his killer. Being willing to fight for what is right for your people, or in this case your wife, is a more than heroic quality. Not only is he willing to fight for just but he is adamant about it. Throughout the entire play he is in search of the Laius’ killer. A hero overcomes the obstacles and brings victory out of defeat by strength of might and wisdom.
Yet most of the Greek heroes had an Achilles’ heel that doomed them. Oedipus is no different. He runs away to protect those he loves, only to find he destroys those he loves as well as himself. He kills his own father with strength of might and ignores the wise warnings of Tiresias. When did he begin to realize that he was sitting on the throne of his own father, whom he had murdered? Oedipus fits the profile of a tragic hero because though he spent the whole play fighting for justice and searching for the answer he is longing for, searching for the cold killer of Laius and promising vengeance by spilling the blood of the murderer.
He crumbles and becomes the fool when he finds out that his blood is the answer. In the end his people win their battle over the chaos, but he loses the fight inside himself. Oedipus realizes the metaphorical blindness that has been hindering him throughout the play and decides that the only way to make it right is to physically blind himself with Jocasta’s broach. 11) Explain the symbolism of the crossroads at which Oedipus murder Laius. Examine the interaction of fate and free-will during this event.
The symbolism of the crossroads is that the innocent son fleeing to protect his parents becomes the guilty murderer who kills his father. Oedipus could have let the carriage pass but he was younger than the rich man in the carriage and stronger. His anger drove his actions and because of his rage, he fulfilled the prophecy that doomed him. He freely chose to run from home and he freely chose to attack the man in the carriage when he could have just let the group pass. Yet was he really free? If this was his fate, could he avoid it or overcome it? The ancient Greeks believed that fate could even overcome the gods.
The fulfilling of this evil fate makes you see Oedipus as a perverted evil person yet the horror of the fate spoken to him makes you feel empathy toward the doomed man. He tried to do right and it was wrong. Yet his attitude when at the crossroads led to an unwise action. He did not know the carriage held his father but he was wrong to kill because of pride and anger. No harm had been done to him because he had merely been insulted. But because of this crossroad moment, he would rush blindly toward fulfilling the prophecy and sealing his fate. He had already been trapped and he thought he was free.