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Sophocles' Oedipus Rex

Extracts from this essay...

Introduction

In Sophocles' Oedipus Rex, Oedipus has the courage to leave the comfort of his royal home in Corinth and starts his journey for his personal truth. He does not remain idle in his life. He refuses to accept what he is told; he wants to find out the truth for himself. This is his personality, and it is this that takes him from Corinth to Delphi and finally to Thebes. In the end, the truth devastates Oedipus and his family, but he does complete what he has set out for. On his journey, he learns of his true identity and he also gains wisdom from his suffering. Many men would not have ventured outside the security of their royal lives. They would rather remain blissfully ignorant. Oedipus is of a different character and nature. Oedipus has the courage and takes the initiative to find his true identity, gains wisdom and is therefore considered a better man.

Middle

For example, Oedipus asks the prophet, Teiresias, for help, but when Teiresias does not reveal the identity, Oedipus becomes enraged and reacts irrationally. This angers Teiresias and finally he tells Oedipus that it was he who killed King Laïos. Refusing the listen the prophet, Oedipus accuses Teiresias and Kreon of treason: "If Kreon, whom I trusted, Kreon my friend, / For this great office [and] ... for this power/ Kreon desires in secret to destroy me!" (369-372) "And it is this man [Oedipus] you think you can destroy,/ That you may be close to Kreon when he is king!/ Well, you and your friend Kreon, it seems to me,/ Will suffer most." (385-389) His irrational outburst reveals his rash personality. Oedipus also displays his character through his search for the truth. He continues the search until his final demise. Oedipus's search for his true identity starts with the ramblings of an intoxicated man. The drunken man tells Oedipus that he is not the son of his parents. His remarks are incredibly traumatic and confusing for Oedipus.

Conclusion

This restarts Oedipus's old search for his true identity. As he continues, Oedipus's downfall becomes more eminent until finally Oedipus finds the truth. Oedipus's identity changes from the son of Polybus and Merope to Laïos and Iokastê's son and finally to his father's murderer and his mother's lover. In the end, the truth tears Oedipus' family apart as Iokastê kills herself and Oedipus stabs out his eyes and exiles himself from Thebes forever. Oedipus gains respect as a result of not committing suicide and taking responsibility for his actions. Oedipus also gains wisdom. His search leads him through incredible heights and incredible lows; he becomes a wiser man through his suffering. By the end of the play, Oedipus learns more than just his true identity; he earns respect and gains wisdom. He is respected because he does not remain passive; he has the courage and takes the initiative to find out for himself. In the end, Oedipus completes his journey; he reaches his goal. He finds out his true identity and acquires wisdom along the way. This is something that many men are not able to accomplish. In this aspect, Oedipus is a better man.

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