Oedipus the King

Paper Rating: Word Count: 686 Approx Pages: 3

The drama Oedipus the King tells of a boy born to King Laius, but raised as the son of the King of Corinth. He is named Oedipus. Oedipus is foretold by an oracle that he will slay his father and wed his mother. And so, thinking that his real parents are the King and Queen of Corinth, he flees. While travelling, he unknowingly kills Laius, then travels to Thebes, where he is taken in as king and marries his mother Jocastas. In lines 245-335, Oedipus speaks to the people of Corinth about the killing of Laius. During this scene, Oedipus characterizes himself by displaying his ignorance to the fact that he is the murderer, his quickness to react, and his arrogance.

Throughout this scene, Oedipus demonstrates his ignorance to the fact that he is the murderer. He persistently questions the people on who the killer is when he himself is in fact the murderer. He tells the crowd to let no man speak to the murderer of Laius, and when he questions the crowd, they are silence. This could be used as a sign meaning that the one whom the crowd fails to respond, who is Oedipus, might in fact be the murderer of Laius, but he is blind to this fact. In addition, Oedipus completely ignores the fact that the oracle said that he would slay his father and marry his mother. He gives this no thought when trying to solve the murder of King Laius. He also gives no thought to the fact that he killed what he thought was a traveler in his journey to Thebes. Oedipus can definitely be characterized as an ignorant man in this scene.

Another way Oedipus can be characterized is that he is very hasty in his decision making. Before he discovers or even comes near to finding out who the killer is, he is authorizing the punishment of the murderer. Oedipus says, "For the worst penalty that shall befall him/ Is banishment -- unscathed he shall depart" (232-233). Oedipus declares banishment upon the murderer before he realizes who the murd... Continue Reading