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Is What Happens To Oedipus Fair? Are We Supposed To Respect Him? Would

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Sophocles uses a mixture of both visual and emotional imagery to create the morally questioning, Greek tragedy Ð''Oedipus Tyrannos'. He presents the audience with an intense drama, which addresses the reality and importance of the gods that the Greeks fervently believed in. The play also forces the audience to ask themselves if there is such a concept as fate.

From the very beginning of Oedipus, it is made clear "that his destiny be one of fate and worse". The irony is that Oedipus unknowingly repeatedly predicts his own fate: "It was I who called down these curses on that man." Oedipus has unconsciously married his mother and killed his father, just as the Oracle predicted. Fate is proven to be unavoidable to Oedipus as the play shows a devout belief in the Greek gods. The Gods are seen as both "protectors" and "punishers", who can "turn fate back away". The gods are shown to have power over everything and everyone, and whoever ignores them will be cursed by the "darts no one escapes". Oedipus is one of these people who is seen to have ignored the gods' warnings and therefore has brought a curse upon himself, and all those around him: "Nothing grows in the earth, nothing in the wombs of the women." With the idea of fate comes the question of fairness. Does Oedipus deserve his pitiful destiny and if it was so pre-decided then why? It was yet again the God's powers.

It may be difficult to avoid pitying Oedipus, as despite his obvious sins, he is shown to be a respectable and honest man: "I bear more pain for the people than for my own soul". Sophocles uses irony to increase your growing pity for Oedipus as he searches for the Ð''abomination' that is soon to be revealed as none other than himself: "That man must reveal himself to me". Oedipus is frantic to find the killer of Laios (his real father) so as to save the city from the "hateful plague" that the gods have brought upon them. When Oedipus gouges out his own eyes, the difference between visual sight and insight is clearly represented: "Light, let this be the last time I look on you". Oedipus cannot bear to see the destruction that he has brought upon his family. "Would the sight of my children have been pleasant?" he asks himself, now left in the depths of shame. Due to the severe punishment that Oedipus inflicts upon himself it makes it difficult for one not to have respect and sympathy for him, as we are constantly reminded that he is "ill fated".

There is an alternative expected reaction from the audience and that is to blame Oedipus, and to take little or no pity on him. He is given many warnings and he often chooses to ignore them. "Do I have to listen to any more?" He refuses to hear the truth or listen to the prophet's warnings, stubbornly claiming to "have nothing to learn". The prophet Teiresias rightly points out: "You look with your eyes but can't even see where your going Ð'- what troubles lie ahead." Oedipus is seen as "Shirking the oracles", running away from his destiny, and in doing so somehow making his futures pain both greater and more certain. "But Polybos takes these oracles down to Hades with him. They are worth nothing." Oedipus' blatant disregard to hear the truth about himself could be seen to be both ignorant and arrogant, and his reactions to the prophet's wise words are often ill-judged and hasty; as he passes them off as "moronic words". Oedipus refuses to heed the prophet's warnings and because of his inability to take heed of them, he is damned by those around him: "let a bad fate chew him to bits."

Due to the fact that Ð''Oedipus Tyrannos' is a typical Greek tragedy on which most other tragedies are based, the audience is prepared for the sorrowful ending that befalls upon Oedipus. They would have had a greater respect for him to begin with as he is a leader, and therefore of course their disappointment could be as equally great. When Sophocles wrote this play in 429 BC, the Greek audience to whom it would have been performed to would not have been shocked either, but their reactions to Oedipus' behaviour would have been less sympathetic due to their belief that one should listen to the Gods. The Greeks believed greatly in the gods just as this play reflects, this enhances the feeling of being disappointed with Oedipus. He appears to have been "reckless": after all, as Oedipus says himself, "only a bad man would ignore what the God says". Yet he does: he blames Kreon and Tyressias who informed them of the truth and labels them liars. At every interval in the play, the characters pray to the gods for their help and blessings. This would be appropriate because this play was originally performed at a religious festival. It is only in the gods that the Greeks hold all their faith; they beg them to "defend us, give us strength to drive out the pollution". Ironically, Oedipus is, in fact, this Ð''pollution' and Sophocles again informs the audience that Oedipus' fate is irreversible, the god's decisions "always there, around him, encircling, tightening".

Sophocles uses the chorus to represent the audience and reflect their thoughts and emotions. The chorus is shown to respect and admire Oedipus, saying "he was good to the city" and therefore they cannot believe that he is evil. It is perhaps because they respect Oedipus so much, and because of their refusal to believe that



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