Truth Revealed in Sophocles´ Oedipus the King Essay

Decent Essays

A story of fate versus free will, innocence versus guilt, and truth versus self-denial, Sophocles laces Oedipus the King with suspense through his use of dramatic irony and achieves an excellent tragedy. The drama opens and we meet Oedipus trying to figure out why his land is cursed and his people suffering. His quest to find out who has caused the downfall Thebes ultimately leads to his downfall. We learn of his triumphs as he has saved the people of Thebes by solving the riddle of the Sphinx, and so his character reflects one who has an ability to seek out the truth and also one who has the flaw of hubris. He reacts rashly when confronted by Tiresias and Creon when their revelations threaten his reality. This certainly reflects an …show more content…

Through his pride he mocks Tiresias for not using his “prophetic eyes” to solve the riddle of the Sphinx and save Thebes as he did. Tiresias response proves Oedipus’ lack of sight and knowledge even further:
“you mock my blindness? Let me tell you this.
You with your precious eyes, you’re blind to the corruption of your life to the house you lie in and those you live with—” (469-72)
Tiresias has full knowledge of the truth even without physical sight versus a man who has sight but is unseeing of the truth that is literally in front of him. This adumbrates Oedipus’ fate, as he will also become like Tiresias with knowledge but no physical sight.
Despite many warnings to let things be, Oedipus persists to know the truth especially since it seems to evade him. He is sure he has absconded the claim of patricide and incest by staying away from his “parents;” the same way Jocasta and Laius thought they had speared themselves that fate as well. Now, they both disregard prophesies as truth. Oedipus has been accused of killing his father but word has been brought to him that his father, Polypus, has died in Corinth and he exclaims:
“Jocasta, why, why look to Prophet’s hearth
…to murder my father, did they? That was my doom?
Well look he’s dead and buried, hidden under the earth,
And here I am in Thebes, I never put hand to sword—
…But now all those prophecies I feared—Polybus packs them off to sleep with him in hell!
They’re nothing, worthless.”

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