World Literature 1
“Oedipus the King”… Hunter, Plowman, and Sailor-Helmsman
Throughout the play “Oedipus Rex”, the main character Oedipus has a number of different character traits throughout the play. His out-look on the stories situation evolves as he begins to learn the truth about who he really is. Oedipus takes on the characteristics of a hunter as well as becoming the hunted; he is a sower yet also the seed, and a sailor-helmsman of the city. Each of these images has their own significance.
Oedipus first starts out as the hunter once he marries the queen of Thebes. Once betrothed, Oedipus is told that, Laius, the late king of Thebes was murdered by a robber. Oedipus says that he will exile or execute Laius’ killer once he is found. The irony to his statement is that he will have to catch and exile himself because in actuality he is the man who killed Laius. Oedipus then goes from being the hunter to the hunted, not knowing the man he is looking for is actually him himself. He proceeds to tell his men to “Hunt him down with all your strength” but in essence he’s telling his men to hunt him which makes him the hunted.
Oedipus asks Tiresias to speak on behalf of what he knows and when he does not this upsets him. Oedipus begins to mock Tiresias about the fact that he cannot “see” and in return Tiresias says the same thing to Oedipus. Tiresias is blind but he is the one who sees Oedipus’ future clearly and Oedipus is not and can’t see what his future holds at all. In mocking Tiresias, Oedipus reaps the consequences of his actions because he later takes his own sight. Oedipus is also considered a sower because he married and had children; however he is his mother’s seed and ironically he married and reproduced with his mother. By definition plowman prepare the fields with seeds and expect plants to be produced. Oedipus and widowed Queen Jocasta marry, are intimate and reproduce children. The imagery is the same for Jocasta...