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The External Conflict in Oedipus: Man vs. Fate - Research Paper Example

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Name Professor Date The External Conflict in Oedipus Rex: Man v. Fate One of the most common themes in ancient literature is man versus fate or man’s inability to control his fate. In Greek mythology, Achilles and Aeneas are only two of the characters who illustrate inability to govern their fate, with Achilles dying because of his heel flaw while Aeneas repeatedly escaping death as his goddess mother saves him from misfortunes…
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The External Conflict in Oedipus: Man vs. Fate
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The External Conflict in Oedipus: Man vs. Fate

Download file to see previous pages... Similarly, the same theme shapes the elements of the play, thus resulting in the creation of one of the best plays of all times. With this, the theme of man versus fate can be considered the play’s best and worst element. The external conflict of man versus fate affects the play positively as it shapes the characterization, plot and emotionality. It makes the elements more interesting and much-awaited as the audience is informed of the truth at the very beginning. Nevertheless, it also serves as the worst element of the drama as it leads to the damnation of the main character. Oedipus suffers damnation for two reasons: murdering his father and marrying his mother. These two unthinkable sins are enough for Oedipus to deserve damnation. The theme of man versus fate helps improve the characterization as it makes Oedipus a round and developing character. His ignorance of the truth at the beginning makes him look weak and helpless. Consequently, as he fulfils the prophecy, he appears vindictive and kingly, able to solve the great puzzle and save people from death. Later on, his inability to decipher the truth as prolonged by his dialogue with Teiresias makes him less pitiful and guilty. In the dialogue, Oedipus seems to be denial of the naked truth in front of him. The conflict of man against fate thus leads the audience to see the character of Oedipus in different angles. The theme also shapes the plot to make it more interesting. Establishing the prophecy at the beginning, Sophocles makes a clear conflict and ending. Unfortunately, the prophecy leads Laius to disown his firstborn and worse, have him murdered. Reacting selfishly to the prophecy in order to protect his life and kingship, Laius deserves the punishment that his own son gives him, that is, death by the latter’s hands. Moreover, the plot is also embellished with the presence of the sphinx whose sinister and remarkable form elevates Oedipus to deserve the royal crown after overpowering it. Finally, the external conflict also leads to the downfall of Oedipus, thus defeating the kingship that he gained and putting things in their proper order. The external conflict further helps establish emotionality of the play. Seeing the origin of the main character, viewers pity the young Oedipus for being banished or supposedly murdered by his own father. When Laius orders the banishment of his own baby, he also orders the murder of it. This thought then creates in the audience a certain amount of anger towards Laius for being irresponsible and cruel as a father. Furthermore, the banishment also leads the audience to pity Oedipus for not knowing the truth in order to act in accordance with it. Equitably, the theme also moves the audience towards anger at Oedipus. They could be angered to see Oedipus murder his own father, thinking that he should not do such a crime. They could experience a more intense anger as they witness Oedipus marrying his own mother, and worst, have children by her. Nevertheless, taking into consideration the external conflict, the audience could have mixed reactions on the said events. As Dodds (17) notes in his essay titled, On Misunderstanding the Oedipus Rex, several literature students form a notion that Oedipus Rex is a story of tragic flaw. In defense, he ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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