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Is Oedipus to blame for his actions Did he get what he deserve or: Explore Oedipus Rex as religious art. or How is Oedipus a t - Essay Example

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Is Oedipus to Blame for His Actions? Did He Get What He Deserved? The tragedy of Oedipus Rex stirs the human soul beyond imagination. To many readers, Oedipus’s destiny seems to be a conspiracy of gods against him. It appears that he had suffered at the hands of preordained fate…
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Is Oedipus to blame for his actions Did he get what he deserve or: Explore Oedipus Rex as religious art. or How is Oedipus a t
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Is Oedipus to Blame for His Actions? Did He Get What He Deserved? The tragedy of Oedipus Rex stirs the human soul beyond imagination. To many readers, Oedipus’s destiny seems to be a conspiracy of gods against him. It appears that he had suffered at the hands of preordained fate. A close reading and understanding of the play however suggests that Oedipus was partially to be blamed for his actions on account of his pride but he didn’t deserve to be punished so severely. The working of fate was far cleverer than Oedipus’ skills, genius, and imagination. Oedipus was a great king and he had inherited a royal blood; was brought up by royal parents (though not his own); and earned kingship by solving the riddle of Sphinx. He was a gifted person and he had always taken chances with his fate. He had desired to outwit his fate just like his own father, Laius. Oedipus believed that he could evade his fate by intervening in the decisions of the gods. He was so sure about himself that he believed he could influence his fate by changing the way things were going. His real father, Laius, ankle-bound him and gave him to a herdsman to be left out in the mountains. His life was saved by the gods and he was brought up by an issueless king of Corinth, Polybus. Oedipus could have enjoyed a life of a king, had he not intervened in the working of the fate. Upon hearing the prediction that he would slay his own father and wed his mother, he left the castle in rage. In his blind fury, he met his real father Laius and got into an argument with him and killed him and all his companions, except for one. Oedipus could be blamed for this act because this could have been avoided. He was in a rage and so much distressed that he let it out on Laius and his companions, who were going back from Delphi. In the beginning of the play, the priest and the prophet proclaim that the gods want the murderer of Laius to be expelled from Thebes because he is the reason for the calamities being inflicted by the gods. Oedipus is blinded by his power, genius and greatness. He is so confident about himself that not for a single moment he reflects upon his own actions or recalls the incident when he killed innocent men. He actually accuses Creon and Tiresias, the messenger of the Oracle and the blind prophet, to be conspiring against him and the kingdom. Oedipus’s blindness to assess his actions and others leads him to a tragic downfall. In the beginning of the tragedy, he pronounces a curse upon the unknown bearer of pollution who is the cause of the plague, he utterly ignores the fact that he could also be that individual and thus condemns himself… Oedipus’s zeal for the truth, which sets the search for the guilty party into motion, is impure. It is the presumption of the king. Oedipus’s zeal belongs to the greatness of the king. It is the presumption of the man who considers himself unaffected by the truth and is related to that of Prometheus. His is the zeal of ignorance. (Ricoeur 113) Oedipus believes that he has escaped his fate by running away from his surrogate parents. This is also another flaw in his judgment the makes him so arrogant and proud. When Tiresias calls him the murderer, he accuses him of felony. He is so confident about himself and his actions that he asks Creon to speak in public about the oracle. Moreover, he questions the prophet and the priest in a manner to humiliate them in public. Despite the fact that Oedipus was a great king; he was not so great in character to be held for the calamities of the people of Thebes. Oedipus’s questioning is also to be partially blamed for his tragedy. He has always revealed an impulsive and probing nature regarding his fate. Perhaps it was his humanistic pride; or the dreaded prophecy; or his blind belief that he had outwitted his fate by running away from his parents that the revelation of truth came as bolt of thunder. Oedipus may be blamed for his actions to some extent but he did not deserve such a cruel punishment. His fall from grace was so severe and shocking that the viewers/audience sympathize with him, which is a characteristic feature of a tragic hero. “Oedipus’s humanistic pride in his autonomy and intelligence comes too late to alter his destiny; his humanity is an instance of ‘(post) human’ at its most poignant and ironic.” (Buchanan 165) Work Cited Buchanan, Bradley W. Oedipus against Freud: Myth and the End(s) of Humanism in Twentieth-Century British Literature. Canada: UTP publishers, 2010. Print. Ricoeur, Paul. The Conflict of Interpretations: Essays in Hermeneutics. London: Athlone Press, 2004. Print. Read More
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