The Fall of Oedipus
“Thebes is tossed in a murdering sea,” cries out the priest towards the beginning of the play. Thebes is enwrapped in darkness, the houses are cursed, children are dying at birth, fruit is growing unhealthily, and no one can put an end to it. Creon enters with the message that the plague is a result of the fact that the murderer of Laius, the former ruler of Thebes, is in the city; he must be exiled in order for the plague to end. After hearing the news, Oedipus vows to find Laius’s murderer. Through Oedipus’s actions and responses towards the message, it is revealed that he is compelled to solve the mystery; however, it is this very compulsion that is incorporated with Oedipus’s pride and overconfidence that leads to his ultimate downfall and the destruction of his family. In Jennifer Lewin’s “An overview of Oedipus Rex,” Lewin takes a different approach in analyzing Oedipus. Lewin portrays Oedipus as: “[Oedipus] is to be admired for many reasons, and especially for demonstrating, as a responsible leader, his desire for honesty and directness in approaching the problem of Thebes’s plague” (1); which can be supported with the immediate vow Oedipus makes against the murderer of Laius. He vows to avenge the city no matter the consequence, for he clearly curses the murderer’s life, then states “…as for me, this curse applies no less.” This illustrates that no matter who the murderer is, he will not discriminate; for the punishment will be certain. He is also to be admired for the fact that he loves the people of Thebes. This can be proven from the scene where Creon enters with a message from Delphi and asks Oedipus to enter away from the people of Thebes; Oedipus, unhesitant, responds: “Let them all hear it. It is for them I suffer, more than myself.” Clearly, Oedipus is not a self-centered leader. While exemplifying Oedipus’s intellectual abilities, Lewin reflects on Rebecca Bushnells “Prophesying Tragedy: Sight and Voice in Sophocles’ Theban...
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