Theme of Fate in “Oedipus the King”
This paper is primarily based on a largely contemplated and extremely riveting issue regarding the renowned ancient Greek climactic play “Oedipus the king”. The whole story revolves around Oedipus leaving him literally enmeshed in an astounding network of difficulties and realities. From the myriad discoveries made by Oedipus to the way he handles those discoveries while relating them to his own life, to the way he relentlessly gives up himself to finding the murderer of his father in an order to lift the curse, and to coming across the reality that he himself murdered his father, this play leaves the people in utter awe and appreciation.
Oedipus is actually the son of King Laius and Queen Jocasta and an act of debauchery performed by Oedipus’s father in his youth tends to cast an impending doom over him and his family. After Oedipus’s father receives a warning that he would have to perish at the hands of his own son, he orders Jocasta to kill the child. But, Oedipus gets miraculously saved from the atrocious act as he is rescued later by a passing by shepherd. He is then taken to the court of King Polybus to be raised by him and his wife, where he realizes that he is not actually their biological son and investigates about his roots. This is one of the first stark discoveries that hits Oedipus in the play and also the one, which leads to a chain of enthralling events and more startling realities. Another discovery uncovered for Oedipus by an astute oracle leaves him perplexed and distressed to get away from King Polybus and his wife, as he is shown to believe them to be his biological parents. The oracle tells Oedipus that he is destined to kill his real father along with mating with his biological mother. So, Oedipus leaves his parents’ court so that they could be saved from his cruelty. This cruel reality pertaining to his foretold fate leaves Oedipus in utter distress and further things happening in the play gradually bring him closer to self-realization. The environment of the play heavily contributes to the way Oedipus becomes able to understand the intricate hidden facts of his past and present. Further in the play, Oedipus happens to quarrel with his biological father, King Laius, on the road to Thebes. Not knowing each other’s identities, both try to kill each other with Oedipus winning the quarrel and fulfilling the first part of the prophetic warning. Once freeing the kingdom of Thebes from the curse by murdering King Laius, he is offered the hand of his biological mother Queen Jocasta, and Oedipus is obviously oblivious to the reality. The unbolting of this hidden fact forms the climactic point of the play. Oedipus vows to find the murderer of King Laius, because a plague results owing to the religious pollution caused by the murder. Oedipus himself summons the fate-reader Tiresias to help him with solving the riddles, who opens the discovery for him that he himself is the murdered of King Laius. As Oedipus is overly distressed, his wife (and mother) comforts him and tells him that prophecy is of no value as King Laius was also not killed by his own son, but by the robbers, at the crossroads. This induces Oedipus to be inquisitive about the incident that happened on the crossroads and asked Jocasta about the horrendous details, finally coming across the fact told by the one surviving witness that it was he, who murdered King Laius and married his biological mother. Everything is at last revealed to Oedipus about the murder, incest, and his own childhood for the one surviving witness was the same shepherd who came across the baby Oedipus. The blood-curdling news sneaks out of the court and the queen hangs herself in her room. Utterly out-of-senses, Oedipus plunges long needles into his own eyes on coming across the queen’s body. Fully self-aware, the blinded Oedipus begs to be exiled and the play ends on the mighty note that no one can be considered fortunate until one is dead.
The play suggests that our daily decisions outline our destinies and even shape them thus one plays a major role in shaping one’s destiny. But this is a choice and freedom that Oedipus was never allowed as the prophetic warning doomed his entire life. (Java). The story of the play suggest that the forced research practiced by King Oedipus adversely affected those around him, thus leaving everyone paralyzed by utter horror and despair at the end. After facing the worst of the worst experiences and developing crude self-hatred, there is nothing left to wait for but death.
Java, Amy. “Critical Analysis of “Oedipus the King.” 2011. Web. 06 Jun. 2011.