Essay, Research Paper: Oedipus


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In the play "Oedipus," irony is used frequently as and as eloquently
by Sophocles to the reveal theme of seeking knowledge. Not knowing the King of
Thebes, Oedipus, gives speeches on finding the murderer of the King of Laias and
how wretched the poor soil will be when the truth is revealed. " Then once
more I must bring what is dark to light…, whoever killed King Laios might- who
knows?-might decide at any moment to kill me as well. By avenging the murder of
the King, I protect myself, (Sophocles 1109). The speech shows how dedicated
Oedipus in the pursuit of the murderer and not only the avenge of the King but
to save himself. He will not be saving but adding down to his life. Oedipus
doesn't realize he is in pursuit of himself. He continues his speech
"Moreover: If anyone knows the murderer to be foreign, Let him not keep
silent: he shall have his reward from him," ( 1112). With his own words he
asks for the truth. But he can't handle the truth, for he has no idea what he is
asking for or for whom he is searching for. He also states that he wants the
people of his country to outcast the murderer once he is discovered. "I
solemly forbid the people of this country, Where power and throne are mine, ever
to receive that man or speak to him , no matter who he is…, ( Sophocles 1112).
He fears the oracle and wants to do it right by it. But in doing so he will
seclude himself from his own people as well as his family. He even prays to God
asking him to punish the murderer severely with no avail. "I pray that that
man's life be consumed in evil and wretchedness… And as for me, this curse
applies no less," ( 1112). He is sure that that the curse doesn't apply to
him, so he is willing to announce this publicly. He doesn't know that the old
man he killed was King Laois. His only concern at this time is to free the city
from sickness. He later announces that the King if he had not been killed would
have had children and he would act as Laois' son and avenge his father's death.
"I say I take the son's part, just as though I were his son, to press the
fight for him," ( 1112). Not only is he going to battle for the murdered
King, but wants all the people in the city and damnation will be their reward.
As he continues his search for knowledge, Oedipus brings the only man known to
know the truth about the prophet Teiresias. Oedipus feels the truth will now be
revealed and satisfaction will come to him. "How dreadful knowledge of the
truth can be when there's no help in truth…," (1114). This speech from
Teiresias is not well interpeted by Oedipus. He is raged. Oedipus wants
Teiresias to speak up and tell what he knows but as Teiresias continues to speak
the Oedipus is confused and angered. Teresias blames Oedipus for the ruin of the
city and finally states that Oedipus is the murderer. Oedipus is furious with
Teresias and tells him to leave.The truth is already hard to swallow. Then it
all starts coming together. Iocaste reminds Oedipus of the story. "Laisaus
was killed By marauding strangers where three highways meet; But his child had
not been three days in the world Before the King had pierced the baby's
ankles…", (1124). This joys Oedipus' memory of the old man he killed and
how he has marks on his heels. Fear overcomes Oedipus. He starts asking Iocaste
questions about the King. What did he look like? Was the King escorted at the
time of his death? He doesn't want to believe what he is hearing. As Oedipus
last resort to seek knowledge he asks the only witness to the crime to come and
give his story. The shepherd to the King of Laios is reluctant to speak. But
Oedipus insists on the truth. As the truth unfolds, Oedipus is left with nothing
but misery. Ah God! It was true! All the prophecies! --Now, O Light, may I look
on you for the last time! I, Oedipus, Oedipus, damned in his birth, in his
marriage damned, Damned in the blood he shed with his own hand! In seeking
knowledge he found the truth. Truth that has brought him to his fate given by
the gods. No other man he feels is as pitiful as himself. With all that was said
he pokes both eyes out to live in misery as he feels he should.
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