Oedipus Rex

Oedipus learned that he had unknowingly killed his own father Laius, thinking that he was a thief and therefore, was protecting himself. When Oedipus commands the shepherd to tell him on the exact circumstance upon which he was delivered to the royal family in Corinth, the shepherd at first refuses to testify, and Locaiste begs her husband to stop in his efforts of trying to figure out the truth. The moment she realizes that he was closer to knowing the truth, she hastens back into the palace, perhaps to escape the embracement that was coming forth. On the other hand, Oedipus the King becomes so nervous and anxious about knowing the truth. He even goes to the extent of threatening the shepherd with torture, if he at all refuses to expound on his story. Caught in between the threats of death and torture, the shepherd finally concurs to Oedipus demand. He explains, that the baby for whom he was given, actually had come from the house of Laius and that in fact, it was King Laius’s son. As the interrogation goes forth, the shepherd proceeds to reveal that in essence, the baby was passed to him by Locaiste for the dead. The reason given to the shepherd for the baby’s killing was out of the blind seer’s prophesy which had predicted that the baby (Oedipus) was going to kill his father and sleep with his mother. Then the shepherd moves on with the explanation stating that he had opted not to kill the baby and in fact, decided to have it nurtured in a distant land, so that the spell could be avoided. Oedipus immediately realizes that the gods had been right about his fate. He had unknowingly killed his father and had his own mother as his wife. He realizes that all along he had been living a lie consoling himself that he was never going to conform to the prophet’s decree. He loses his peace of mind and decides to pierce out his own eyes as a way of punishing himself for the deeds he had been accountable for. He even screams so loud, especially when he realizes, that his wife who happens to be his mother has hanged herself and died. The truth hurts him to the extent of making him yearn for exile of which Creon vehemently executes. Creon agrees to have him exiled and Oedipus goes to Athens, where he died and was buried at a secret grave (Storr, 1912).

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Personally, I feel that Oedipus is just, but he is a victim of circumstance. He does not happen to have the fate under his own control. The play unfolds with a clear indication that he had been made a life specimen with the gods. He is a good king, who aspires that his undertakings would be well received. He even goes ahead to help his subjects to bring down the plague. I feel, that Oedipus was so sincere, when he lamented that he had unknowingly killed his father and that he always thought that he was the son of the king of Corinth. I feel that if there has to be a person to be blamed for this occurrence, then the shepherd should be held accountable. He defied the orders from Locaiste of killing the baby and thus prevented the ending of the bad spell instead he had opted, with reasons well known to him, to take the baby to a distant land, where he thought is safe. The shepherd’s foolish decision was to be held accountable and not the king’s. My opinion at this extent is that the happenings that had lead to the truth were tragic and there was little that Oedipus could do, in fact during his life time, he had worked so hard to escape the prophecies of the gods. When he learned, that the gods had predicted, that he was going to kill his parents, he fled from Corinth so that he may not help to fulfill the spell. The irony is depicted when in fact he is lead to his original home, probably by the God, where he finally gets to know the truth.

The lesson that Oedipus learned after knowing the truth is that the gods cannot be ignored or rather underestimated. This is well reflected when he fled Corinth thinking that he had escaped the wrath of the gods, when in reality he had been made to resort to the country, where his parents were living. However, he does not kill himself, because he wishes to suffer for the role he had been affianced to. He desires to face the wrath of killing his own parents. This is well depicted when he pierced out his eyes as a sign of remorsefulness for his actions. I feel, that he is a character to admire in the sense that he fights so hard to make things right even though they come down tumbling on him. The admirations are perceived, when he orders Creon to send him to exile as a way of making good the promise which he made earlier that whoever is found to be Laius murderer must immediately be sent to exile and never returned back. He also pierces out his eyes, in order to fulfill the decree he had earlier on made that anyone found to have murdered the king Laius. Another illustration is when he persistently refuses to go back to his home, despite constant persuasion from his son, Polynices. He opts to be buried in Athens, rather than go back.


Apart from Oedipus, we have two other characters whose role helps in unfolding the play. They play important roles that serve to bring out various themes of the play. These two characters are Locaiste and Teiresias. Locaiste is both the mother and wife to Oedipus the King. Her role in the play is so significant in the sense that it’s only through her, the theme of unwillingness to know and handle the truth is manifested. When Oedipus gets closer from knowing the truth, his wife Locaiste determined begs him to cease from inquiring the truth and when defeated she hides in the palace, where she hangs herself. When the blind seer prophesizes that it was Oedipus who had killed his father, the King gets angry to the extent of accusing the seer of conspiring to kill him, but his wife Locaiste eases the situation by claiming that seers are not always right and that sometimes they are infallible. Teiresias, on the other hand, play the role of the blind seer, who reveals that it was indeed Oedipus who had killed his own father. It’s through him, the theme of limit to free will is clearly depicted. When king Oedipus orders him to reveal the murderer of king Laius, he opts to state that it was Oedipus, who should be held responsible for the act. It’s through Teiresias that the truth of the matter is laid down on the table. He mediates between the gods and man (Storr, 1912).