Oedipus The King: Oedipus As A Recovered Character
The tragedy presented in Oedipus the King hugely demonstrates how Oedipus recovered at the end of the play. The truth did not shatter him as expected; instead, it reshaped his independence, taught him some valuable lessons, unleashed his new relation to his destiny, and eventually showed him where man is in relation to God.
For Oedipus, the truth did not destroy him but reasserted his independence. He differentiates between his responsibility for what he has done and the will of Apollo. In addition, his choice of blinding himself reinforces his belief that he still has free will and can decide his punishment though he tries to manipulate his people by asking them to decide on his punishment since he once rescued them and courageously went after the truth. Blaming Apollo and the darkness of ignorance forced on him, he regards himself as innocent of the crimes he did since he has done them in ignorance.
Though the tragedy costs him the death of his parents, pity from his people and blindness of sight, he learned some lessons that everyone should follow. Firstly, he now knows that God is the only divine power that has ultimate knowledge and man’s knowledge is nothing compared to God’s knowledge. Secondly, he learned that his weakness and the consequences of his actions are results of his limited knowledge that he once considered ultimate. Thirdly, after the tragedy he wants to be Apollo’s spokesman -Like Tiresias whom he once mocked- and is eager to fulfil Apollo’s commands. Fourthly, man should not try to understand the Divine patterns that hold his future but rather accept them.
Oedipus’s relation to his destiny is reshaped after he knows that he knew nothing about who he is. Although he accepts his destiny and is in harmony with whatever will happen to him, he tries to decide his future and his family’s. For one, he blinds himself and then pretend to having the desire to obey Apollo’s commands. He also gives Creon instructions to bury Jocasta in spite of the sins she has committed. In relation to his sons and daughters, he decides that the boys need no help since they can take care of themselves, and that the girls need to be taken care of by Creon since they are the ones who can not withstand the sins committed by their parents and grandparents. What’s more paradoxical is that he banishes himself from Thebes before hearing Apollo’s final commands of how he should be punished.
In terms of Man’s relation to God, the audience of the play come to understand that Man is not equal to God -as Oedipus thought of himself- nor he is equal to nothing -as the chorus said. Man understands that his place in the universe is fixed and his knowledge is limited to some extent. In addition; man should be certain that no matter how much he know, he still lacks the knowledge needed to prevent his destiny from coming true.
- Sophocles, ., Berg, S., & Clay, D. (1978). Oedipus the King. New York: Oxford University Press.
- Oedipus Rex: 4 – The Recovery of Oedipus : Massachusetts Council for the Humanities.; Encyclopaedia Britannica Educational Corporation : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming. (1997). Retrieved from https://archive.org/details/oedipusrex4therecoveryofoedipus