Oedipus Rex Theme Paper (Choice 2)
Contrary to popular belief, Oedipus was not a mere victim of fate but rather responsible for his own banishment and blindness. In addition, Oedipus had several character flaws that contributed to his dreaded fate, the most prevalent being anger.
One instance where Oedipus ruins his own future is at the start of the play when he is speaking with Creon, his brother in law, who has just returned from the oracle. Creon told
Oedipus that the murderer must be banished for the gods to forgive the city. Oedipus replied to him by saying, “I ban this man, whoever he is, from all land over which I hold power and the throne. I decree that no one shall receive him or speak to him, nor make him partner in prayers to the gods or sacrifices, nor allow him holy water; but instead that everyone must expel him.”
(lines 239247) He is making a harsh decree towards the murderer out of anger when he has not even discovered who the murderer even is, or why they did such a thing. This proves that
Oedipus in incapable of pausing and thinking about the situation before dishing out punishments.
This decree comes back to haunt him, as he eventually figures out that he was the murderer and has sent himself into banishment. He makes several decisions on the fly that contribute to his disturbing downfall.
One of those decisions is made in the next scene of the play when Tiresias, the blind seer who has come to tell who who the murderer is, walks onto the stage very concerned and will not tell Oedipus much of what he knows. Oedipus gets very worked up about it all and in line 348 he
yells, “What are you saying? You will not explain what you understand, but rather intend to betray us and destroy the city? TIRESIAS: I cause no pain for you or myself. Why do you vainly seek this? For you can learn nothing from me. OEDIPUS: You worst of wicked men! You would anger a stone! Will you reveal nothing, but instead show yourself unmovable and impractical?
TIRESIAS: You have found fault in my anger, but your own, living within you, you did not see, but blamed me.” Tiresias is afraid if Oedipus will accept the harsh truth he is about to share, as
Oedipus has become frighteningly angry. Then they continue to argue until line 363 where
Oedipus says in full rage, “Indeed, since I am so angry, I’ll pass over none of what I understand.
Know that I think you, too, had your hand in this deed and did it, even though you did not kill with your own hands. But if you could see, I would think the deed is yours alone. TIRESIAS:
Really? I say to you; Abide by that decree you made earlier, and from this day address neither these men nor me, since you are the unholy polluter of this land.” Tiresias is now pointing out the fact that the decree Oedipus made out of anger will backfire right in his face, and I will regret making it before knowing all the facts and calming down. He concludes this powerful statement with the raw truth that Oedipus is “the unholy polluter of the land” AKA, Oedipus was the murderer. Next, out of pure spite towards Tiresias, Oedipus accuses him of being the murderer, or at least being the partner of the one who committed such a crime. Oedipus then believes that
Creon put him up to this and that Croen just wants to take his place as king. Then in line 388,
Oedipus says, “Do you really think you can say that unpunished? TIRESIAS: If there is any strength in the truth.” In this section, Tiresias is telling Oedipus the full truth, and Oedipus refuses to accept it as fact. He becomes angry with him and believes Tiresias is just lying to him
about this whole prophecy. Oedipus then banishes Tiresias unjustly. Suggesting he makes decisions on a whim without considering the consequences and how they would affect his future.
Throughout their whole conversation, Oedipus is full of strife and anger which clouds his judgement and