Self-Discovery and the Pursuit of Truth in Sophocles' Oedipus

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Self-Discovery and the Pursuit of Truth in Sophocles' Oedipus It is said that the truth will set you free, but in the case of Sophocles’ Oedipus, the truth drives a man to imprison himself in a world of darkness by gouging out his eyes. As he scours the city for truth, Oedipus’ ruin is ironically mentioned and foreshadowed in the narrative. With these and other devices Sophocles illuminates the king’s tragic realization and creates a firm emotional bond with the audience. Oedipus’ quest is revealed to him early on in the play, though it undergoes a number of transformations before he is actually examining his own life and heritage. He begins with the reasonable search for the motive behind the wave of death…show more content…
It is quickly determined between the two men that the defilement to which the prophecy refers is the murderer of Laius. Oedipus sees it as his duty to rid the city of the villain, who the audience knows to be the king himself. Seeking out the man who slew Laius leads Oedipus to question his own innocence, and leads into the final metamorphosis of Oedipus’ quest. Prompted by a messenger heralding the death of Polybus, he is beginning to dig into his past, going deeper than the possibility of his murdering Laius. He has become obsessed with his hunt for truth to the point where he is a worry to those around him: "He will listen to any voice that speaks disaster…" (III.7). He finally draws parallels between Laius and himself, realizing the horrible truth of his very existence; he has murdered his father and married his mother. This prompts him to gouge out his eyes, ending his search. These three stages, with respect to literary devices, can be traced accurately and effectively throughout the play. Sometimes highlighting Oedipus’ character, other times hinting at his fate, the author creates an intricate web of ironies and images to captivate his audience. Each layer compounds the suffering of Oedipus when the truth is revealed. While presenting the plea of all Thebans in the prologue, the priest says, "…We rose but later fell…" (52). He, of course, is referring to the city, but the

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