Free «Who is Responsible for Oedipus’ Tragedy» Essay Sample


The fault or innocence of Oedipus is considered to be an interesting topic to discuss by many researchers. The personal tragedy of the main hero makes readers feel sorry for him. Who can be defined accountable for everything that happened to Oedipus: the misfortune or Oedipus himself? A person cannot predict and know beforehand what his actions may turn into. Thus, in the given paper we will try to prove that it is fate that is responsible for Oedipus’ tragedy.

Hand of fate

It goes without saying that all that happened to Oedipus is awful and nobody deserves that. The power of fate is one of the main themes of Sophocles’ Oedipus. Oedipus is a bright embodiment of the tragic circumstances that predetermine human choices. The life path of Oedipus seems to be planned by his fate, as “One clue might lead us far, With but a spark of hope to guide our quest” (Sophocles, n.d.). Oedipus realizes that his quest for answers may guide him far and he cannot change it. However, he does not know that, once having chosen this way, he will not get a chance to change his direction. In this sense, Oedipus is the reflection of the major traditions that shaped human choices in ancient times. At that time, one of the central beliefs was that individuals could not avoid their pre-defined destiny. Like many contemporaries, Oedipus was not able to turn away from the tragic forecast.


What was Oedipus’ fault? Oedipus is well-known for his arrogance, and numerous passages of Sophocles’ tragedy confirm these perceptions. Throughout his path to the end of the life, Oedipus shows his self-centeredness and a belief in his own righteousness: “Well, I will start afresh and once again Make dark things clear. Right worthy the concern of Phoebus, worthy thine, too, for the dead; I also, as is meet, will lend my aid To avenge this wrong to Thebes and to the god” (Sophocles n.d.).  The character of Oedipus is the embodiment of egoism and the feeling of superiority. Arrogance blinds Oedipus but eventually allows him to alleviate the burden of ambiguity in his heart and mind. Through arrogance, self-interest and pride, Oedipus is guided by the gods. It is arrogance and self-interest that drive Oedipus to find answers to the most problematic questions. Arrogance is an ever-present problem in Oedipus’s life. Simply put, Oedipus assumes the central role of an oracle, a decision maker and an enigma solver. He believes he has the strength, endurance, wisdom and power to answer the major questions of life. His pride and self-centeredness lead him to imagine himself an oracle, who has vision and can do no wrong. Moreover, it is the fact that Oedipus wants to preserve his position and throne by all means, saying “Not for some far-off kinsman, but myself. Shall I expel this poison in the blood; For who so slew that king might have a mind To strike me too with his assassin hand” (Sophocles, n.d.). In this passage, Oedipus implies that his enemies should not hope to eliminate him from the throne; he is powerful enough to fulfill his prophetic mission without losing his royal position. Oedipus does not recognize his fault, he accuses destiny in everything what happened: “My destiny, my dark power, what a leap you made” (Sophocles, n.d.). However, the feeling that Oedipus awakes is the feeling of sorrow and deep sympathy.


Notwithstanding that many scholars and even Sophocles himself state that Oedipus went through tragedy because of his personal mistake, it is not completely so as the main hero could not know and predict that the man he killed was his father and his marriage was unnatural and awful. His fate is a great puzzle, which has been formed by a great unseen Power and it resulted in a tragedy that can be hardly explained. Greek refer this great Power to God, while contemporary researchers explain it from both divine and mythological perspective. In one way or another, Oedipus as a tragic hero has been acknowledged for centuries. The main point of modern researches is to widen a scope of background issues which make him a tragic hero and destroyed by fate.


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