Oedipus the King

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Oedipus the King


The uniqueness of the story of Oedipus the King lies in the fact that it is not told, but uncovered. Intertwined within are the workings of fate, which ultimately propel the uncovering of the story (Driver 247). The past is relied upon to solve the mystery of the present; however, it is learned by all that actions taken in the past will not change the fate of the future.

The gods of Sophocles are the forces which operate within the cosmos, thus giving its consistency and order. Therefore judgment is the work of fate (Driver 247). Every detail of the story is contrived as to reinforce the conception of order disturbed and order restored (Driver 247). Oedipus's parents were told early of their son's fate, as a result they sought to destroy him and thus inhibit the horrors of fate. Their plan was interrupted and in the end, order was restored because fate was allowed to take its course. When Oedipus later heard of his fate, he decided to return to Thebes, his birth town, in order to escape his fate. As Oedipus would find out later, his actions only propelled his fate to become true.

As a means of aiding in the uncovering of the story, the past is imbedded in the center of the play, which is the key to the mystery. The overall form of the play shows the past enclosed with in the present (Driver 249). But the actions of the play show that in reality the present is enclosed in the past (Driver 249). Throughout the play every decision that affects the outcome of the present, was made in the past. The past decision to keep Oedipus alive severely affected the present. Oedipus's past decision to return to Thebes resulted in the later unveiling that on his journey he had killed his father. But it was not revealed until Oedipus had wed his mother.

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Morality underlies the story; however the story ultimately has no moral lesson (Driver 247). The morality is contained in the fact that through the workings of fate, order was always restored. As many times as everyone tried to change the fate of Oedipus, fate always overruled.

Driver, Tom F. (1990). Oedipus the King. In Robert W. Corrigan (Ed.), Classical Tragedy Greek and Roman (pp. 245-251). New York, NY: Applause Theatre Book Publishers.


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