The Relevance of Oedipus the King
The tragic play Oedipus the King shows that in ancient times, and in this present day in age, your fate cannot be controlled and your actions also play a role in your fate. The fate of our lives is pretty much inevitable but in this play Oedipus, Jocasta, and Laius felt that they could outrun or change their fate and alter the prophecy that was told about their life would not be bestowed upon them. But their actions proved to somewhat set their fate in stone and uncover it more instead of helping them not for see what the Gods had in store for them.
Oedipus grew up not knowing who his biological mother and father were and his fate was set for him when he was just an infant. The fate set for Oedipus was that he would kill his father and marry his mother. He found this out when he went Delphi to find out who his real parents were and Apollo did not give him the answers he wanted to hear but this disturbing prophecy that he tried his best to outrun. When Laius was killed and Oedipus became king of Thebes and married Jocasta he did not know any background history on the death of Laius. Thebes was in a very sick state and Oedipus called upon Teiresias the prophet to reveal the killer of Laius and save Thebes. But Teiresias refused to reveal the killer and stated “I will not reveal the troubling things inside me, which I can call your grief as well” (Line 319). Oedipus replied with “Do you know and will not say? Do you intend to betray me and destroy the city” (Line 395)? Oedipus was digging for information on the death of Laius but did not know that the info he was seeking would reveal how blind he was by not knowing he was living his fate.
Teiresias gave into the demands of Oedipus and told him “I say that yourself are the very man you’re looking for” (Line 434-435). Oedipus became enraged and refused to believe Teiresias and his skills in prophecy and he shows his lack of disbelief when he tells Teiresias “Truth is not in you. For your ears, your eyes, your mind, are blind” (Line 445)! Oedipus then starts to accuse Creon, the brother of Jocasta, of treason and trying to take away his power since he is the one who brought Teiresias to him to prophesize. But Oedipus soon learns the truth when he listens to Jocasta.
Jocasta tells Oedipus “Listen to me, and ease your mind with this. No human being has skill in prophecy” (Line 851-852). Jocasta feels this was because she too believes that she has outrun her fate. She proceeds to tell Oedipus that when she was married to Laius he received a prophecy from Apollo that said he would be killed by a son born to him and Jocasta. Laius and Jocasta tried to change their fate by fusing their child’s ankles together and ordering him thrown on a mountain rock. She also goes on to tell Oedipus that “Laius was killed by foreigners or robbers at a place where three roads meet” (Line 860-861). Oedipus is troubled by what Jocasta has told him because he then realizes that he killed a man where three roads meet while traveling when he ran away from Corinth. He also then realizes that Jocasta is his mother.
Oedipus believed in the Gods and as he found out the truth about himself, he did not blame the gods but blamed himself without question. And he was right to blame himself because his actions helped to seal his fate. Truly the last thing he wanted to do was kill his father but killing anyone is wrong. Oedipus also did not plan to marry his mother but this is the fate he sealed for himself when he killed his father Laius. He tried to escape from these realities but the prophecy came true. Jocasta, his mother and also his wife, told him not to go further and forget the things that he has done but Oedipus did not listen. He suffered with this bad news and pretty much lead his life to tragedy. There was nothing he could do about what he has done in the past so he blinds himself by gouging his own eyes out, fearing something else bad will happen again. And Jocasta kills herself after ultimately not being able to deal with knowing she was the mother of Oedipus.
I believe that your fate cannot be controlled but you actions can be. This play shows that many of us do not believe how our actions can play a huge role in how our life pans out but our actions speak louder than words. I’m no prophet but maybe the life of Oedipus would have panned out differently if he did not try to run from his fate and if Jocasta and Laius had not threw him on that mountain. But on the other hand it might have also turned out differently if he didn’t go searching for answers. Sometimes when we go searching we find things we do not want to hear or see and it changes our life forever.
Johnston, Ian. “Sophocles Oedipus the King.” richerresourcespublications. N.p., n.d.
Web. 8 Apr. 2010.