Oedipus the King


Oedipus is a man of accepting his responsibilities and acting on them. Being a man


of action, accepts his responsibility of a son and leaves home attempting to avoid his faith


which consists of the murder of his father and marriage to his mother. As king he accepts


his responsibility of the uncovering of the murder of King Laius. The search for the


murderer leads to nothing but a discovery of regrettable action and literally a blinding


truth. A truth that was better left undiscovered. Oedipus discovers that he murdered King


Laius and married his mother Jocasta. His discovery yet innocent at heart leads to his


realization that he is guilty of one thing, trying to change his own faith.


Oedipus the King is a man of responsible action, but has an uncontrollable curiosity


which hurts him in the end. Oedipus accepts his duties as king and tries to end the plague


in Thebes.


“Then I’ll go back and drag that shadowed past to light. Oh, yes the pious Apollo and your piety have set on foot a duty to the dead: A search that you and I together will pursue. My designs could not be suited more: to avenge the god and Thebes in a single blow. Ah! Not for any far-flung friend, but by myself and for myself I’ll break this plague. For who knows, tomorrow this selfsame murderer may turn his bloody hands on me. The cause of Laius therefore is my own. So, rise up, children, and be off. Take your prayer boughs too. Summon here the counselors of Thebes and muster too the Cadmus clan. I am resolute, and shall not stop till with Apollo’s help all-blessed we emerge, or else we are lost-beyond all purge.” ( Prologue, pg 219).


This refrain is describes Oedipus’ motives and intent for his action or any action he make


in the play. He is declaring his search for the murder of King Laius. It shows that he is


taking responsibility for being king, vengeful to the god, persistent in pursuit for the


murderer, but most of all selfish. Oedipus says himself in this line “ Not for any far-flung


friend, but myself and for myself I’ll break this plague.” Oedipus is acting noble in


avenging the former kings death, but his first sign of selfishness protrudes out this line.


Oedipus’ action of avenging the king’s death and breaking the plague is the chance for


him to be proved as a great king.


Oedipus finds out from the oracle in his childhood town Corinth that he will murder


his father and marry his mother. Oedipus being just and reasonable does not want this to


occur, so he leaves Corinth. Oedipus tries to deny his own faith by leaving home.


Oedipus proves to be selfish by not accepting his own fate. Apart from what he was


fated to do, he does not want to do accept his faith and leaves. Some say these actions


maybe, innocent. Who would want to murder their own father, let along marry your


mother? It was his curiosity of wanting to know his own faith. It is not his choice to


change it and he is guilty of that. His action of leaving innocent, but the Oedipus not


accepting his faith which he desired is selfish.


Oedipus’ persistence and curiosity overpowered reason. In the First Episode on page


226 Tiresias the blind oracle say “ I’d rather keep you and me from harm. Don’t press me


uselessly. My lips are sealed.” Tiresias consciously tries to cover up the knowledge


Oedipus desires, but eventually sets the knowledge free. Oedipus’ curiosity and


persistence lead him to the beginning of his own doom. Oedipus’ actions stop being


noble when he becomes suspect to the crime. From the moment Tiresias tells Oedipus


that “The rotting canker in the State is you.”, Oedipus’ noble search becomes a personal


one in which he can not refrain from settling his curiosity. This is where sometimes the


truth is better left unsaid, but Oedipus refuses to refrain from his overpowering curiosity.


The arrival of the shepherd answers all the questions Oedipus desires. The


messenger helps explain what happened in the woods and during his childhood.


The shepherd and messenger were neighbors on