Oedipus Essay, Research Paper
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.
It was true!
All the prophecies!
–Now, O Light, may I look on you for the last time!
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.