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Essay/Term paper: Oedipus essay

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Oedipus

Free essays available online are good but they will not follow the guidelines of your particular writing assignment. If you need a custom term paper on Oedipus: Oedipus Essay, you can hire a professional writer here to write you a high quality authentic essay. While free essays can be traced by Turnitin (plagiarism detection program), our custom written essays will pass any plagiarism test. Our writing service will save you time and grade.

Sophocles "Oedipus the King" is a tragic play which discusses the

tragic discovery of Oedipus that he has killed his father and married

his mother. The story of Oedipus was well known to the athenian"s.

Oedipus is the embodiement of the perfect Athenian. He is

self-confident, intelligent, and strong willed. Ironically these are the

very traits which bring about his tragic discovery. Oedipus gained

the rule of Thebes by answering the riddle of Sphinx. Sophocles

used the riddle of the sphinx as a metaphor for the 3 phases of

Oedipus" life and to futher characterized him as a tragic man.



The Sphinx posed the following riddle to all who came to obtain the

rule of thebes: "What is it that walks on 4 feet and 2 feet and 3 feet

and has only one voice, when it walks on most feet it is the

weakest?" Oedipus correctly answered "Man" and became the king

of Thebes. This riddle is a metaphor for the life of Oedipus. As a

child man crawls on his hands and knees this is the four feet to

which the Sphinx refers. Also man is at his weakest as a small child.

He depends solely on others for his nourishment and well being.

Oedipus was the child of Jocasta and King Laius who was taken to

the mountain by a shepard to be killed so the omen of the god

apollo that Laius" son would kill him and lay with Jocasta would not

come true. Oedipus was the weakest of his life at this point. If it has

not been for the shepard spairing his life and giving him to Polybus

to raise as his own Oedipus would have died.



Man walks on 2 feet when he has matured. This is a metaphor for

Oedipus when he reaches adulthood and leaves Corinth to escape

the oracle. Oedipus meets up with a band of travelers and in a rage

kills them. Inadvertently Oedipus has killed his own father. Oedipus

then answers the riddle of the sphinx and becomes king of Thebes.

By becoming king of Thebes he marries Jocasta the Queen of thebes

and his own mother. Many years later after bearing children with

Jocasta a plague kills many of the inhabitants of Thebes. Oedipus is

told by the gods to find the killer of Laius. He is very dilligent in the

inquiriy and finally comes to the horrible truth that he himself is the

murderer. Jocasta kills herself at the horrible realization that she has

layed with her son and Oedipus puts out his eyes at finally seeing

the truth. This fulfills the final part of the Sphinx"s riddle for Oedipus

will have to walk with a cane for the rest of his life because of his

blindness, this will give him the 3 feet which man walks with at the

end of his years.



Oedipus used his intellect and diligence to answer the riddle of the

Sphinx. Many of the most intelligent young men of thebes has been

killed attempting to answer the riddle but Oedipus proved his

intelligence superior to theirs. Oedipus uses the same intelligence

and perseverence to find the killer of Laius. He does not give up his

search even when Jocasta warns him to stop and let the matter rest.

He calls the shepard and interrogates him till he discovers the

horrifying truth that he is the killer. Oedipus" intelligence was

ultimately his flaw. Also, if Oedipus had not had been as

coarageous he would have have never ventured to answer the riddle

of the Sphinx. Thus even though he had killed his father he would

have never become king of Thebes and laid with his mother. In

addition, if Oedipus had had the courage but not the intelligence the

Spinx would have killed him for answering the riddle incorrectly.

Sophocles used this to characterized Oedipus as a tragic man for he

came about his tragic discovery not because of an evil act or an evil

trait but because of the person he was. Oedipus traits which gave

him riches and power ultimately led to his tragic ending. Also, the

god apollo did not predestine that Oedipus would kill his father and

marry his mother by the oracle, he only stated what he knew was

inevitable because of who Oedipus was.



The sphinx"s riddle was used by Sophocles to characterize Oedipus

as a tragic man and as a parallel to his life. The riddle describes the 3

stages which Oedipus went through in his life. Also in answering

the riddle Oedipus inevitable brought about his own tragic ending

by a horrible discovery.  

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