Oedipus The King

Nobody understands when a tragedy is destined to strike. Theunpredictability factor attributes to the fact that it is themanifestation of bad events that cause great sadness and in mostcases leads to death. Moreover, according to the human nature, peoplewill do anything to make sure they mitigate any imminent tragedies.However, irrespective of the adopted strategies, when tragedy isdestined to strike, denial does not help in fact, it leads to moretrouble. According to Aristotle, tragedy is defined by its purposeand the witnessed outcomes. Therefore, an overall look at tragedy andits unfolding portrays the image of dramatic actions that affects thefear and pity aspects in a given occurrence.

As per the play, , the issue of tragedy isclearly portrayed in various incidences. First, the story starts as amystery that is surrounded by murder, political thrill, andpsychological whodunit. The different manifestation of tragedy, asper the story plotline, shows a king dedicated to bringing themystery to an end by finding the killers of King Laius (Sophocles 4).The drama twist in this play is incomparable, since after seeking forprophetic intervention, the king ends up finding out he is theassassin. The paper will thus focus on analyzing the tragic events asshown in the play, as well as giving them the appropriateinterpretation.

According to most occurrences, tragedy is seen as repercussions ofwrong doings. Therefore, when considering the story, Oedipus TheKing, the society is on the verge of being destroyed by theplague. As a result, Oedipus being the king, the people come to himseeking a solution, and he has to act right and intervene. By doingso, the king sends his brother, Creon, to the oracle and seeks forintervention. Creon returns to the city with the message that theplague will only end if the killer of the preceding Thebes’ king,Laius, is found (Sophocles 8). Moreover, according to the oracle’sdirectives, the killer is in town and the society should worktogether in bringing the perpetrator to book. Oedipus destined tohelp his people takes the initiative and promises the people asolution, and the seriousness of the matter is depicted with theindication that the assassin will be expelled from the city (TheOedipus Trilogy n.p.).

Oedipus questions Creon regarding the murder of King Laius, who wasallegedly attacked by villains while visiting an oracle. The KingLaius death is a mystery and Oedipus decides to summon Tiresias tothe palace for an explanation of the mysterious death. The blindprophet, Tiresias, is reluctant to talk, which agitates the king.Consequently, the king accuses Tiresias of being the murderer in hisdefense, the prophet tells the king that the truth of the matter ishurting and its revelation will bring more pain and suffering.Oedipus mocks and curses the old man and this provokes him to revealthe truth that he is the murder of King Laius (Sophocles 11). Therevelation angers the king since he views this as a conspiracybetween the prophet and his brother to blame him for the murder. Thisleads to Oedipus refuting the prophecy and throws Tiresias out, butbefore he is thrown out, the prophet gives a hint of an existingincestuous marriage.

The disastrous outcomes in the story are serious, and Oedipus seesthis prophecy as being doomed and Jocasta, the queen, was the onlyappropriate person to turn to for good advice. According to Jacosta,the prophecy is null, since the previous prophecy that the king,Laius, would be killed by their son did not fulfill since their sonwas dead (The Oedipus Trilogy n.p.). Moreover, the king was murderedby robbers. Thinking that Jocasta would be of much consolation, herremarks that the king had been killed by robbers at the crossroads,leads to distress. Oedipus is troubled by the fact that, before hisarrival in Thebes, he had killed a man that resembled the previousking. As Aristotle expresses it, tragedy is defined by its purposecontinued to manifest in Oedipus story. That is, an overallreflection of Oedipus early life shows that a prophecy from an oraclehad suggested that he was destined to kill his father and marry hismother. It is for fear of this prophecy that he had run from hissupposedly home place, Corinth to come to Thebes.

A relief to the tragic tension is ushered by the arrival of amessenger who delivers the news of Polybus death, and this confirmedthat the prophecy that Oedipus would kill his father was null, sincehe had died out of natural causes. Unknown to them at that moment,Polybus was not Oedipus biological father, as he had been adoptedafter he had been abandoned. Thinking that he was bringing relief tothe matter, the messenger tells Oedipus that he should not worrysince Polybus and his wife, Merope were not his biological parents(Rao, Sirish, Gita Wolf, and Sophocles 21). In fact, in his words,the messenger tells Oedipus that he was an orphan and he was given tohim by a fellow shepherd. Wanting to find the truth, to theprevailing matter, Oedipus sends for the shepherd for inquiry. From amere description of the event unfolding, Oedipus had was to be killedby the shepherd, but instead, he was presumed abandoned form Laiusplace, and his adoption was the only reason h was in Corinth sincethe king and queen had taken him as their son.

From the brief description of the prevailing situation, Jocasta issomehow suspicious that Oedipus could be that son she had ordered tobe killed after the prophecy that he would kill his father and marryhis mother was made. However, thirsty for the truth, Oedipus sent forthe shepherd, and at first, he was reluctant to talk. It was withthreats that the shepherd agreed to talk and this suddenly causesterror in Jocasta and runs off into the palace (Rao, Sirish, GitaWolf, and Sophocles 27). The truth to the overall situation isrevealed, and it is clear that Oedipus is actually the son of Laiusand Jocasta. It is on this ground that Oedipus realized that, despitethe precautions and efforts to run away from the prophecy, it hadbeen fulfilled. That is, the man he had killed before coming toThebes was his father and the woman he was married to was hisbiological mother. Jocasta cannot bear the truth and ends upcommitting suicide and Oedipus agonizes by the unfolding and waitsfor his destiny from the society’s judgments.


Tragedy from Aristotle’s point of view is defined by the course ofits actions and the incurred outcomes. First, when considering theplay’s unfolding, the people of Thebes were facing a plague whichwas the consequences of killing King Laius, as indicated by theOracle. Secondly, the prophecy that Oedipus would kill his father andmarry his mother was destined to be. Thus, because Jocasta had takenthe initiative to kill this prophecy, Oedipus had survived herattempts to kill him, it is clear that tragedy is inevitable.Moreover, similarly, despite Oedipus efforts to dodge the prophecy,he finds himself in the right place for its execution. Therefore, itis unmistakably clear that tragedy is defined by the eventualoutcomes.

Works Cited

Rao,Sirish, Gita Wolf, and Sophocles.&nbspSophocles` Oedipus theKing. Los Angeles, CA: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2004. Print.

Sophocles,.&nbspOedipus the King. Place of publication not identified:Filiquarian Pub, 2007. Print.

&quotTheOedipus Trilogy.&quot&nbsp. N.p., n.d. Web.30 Sept. 2016.