Free Oedipus the King Essays: Metamorphosis of Oedipus

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Metamorphosis of Oedipus in Oedipus Rex (the King) 


  The metamorphosis of Oedipus in Sophocles' "Oedipus Rex" is sudden and climactic. Sophocles wrote the tragedy to bring a certain moral conclusion to fruition by the end of the novel. To have change, the character of Oedipus first had to reveal his tragic flaw. He begins the story as a brilliant conqueror and becomes a bereft and blind man at the play's surface. However, the moral of the play is not merely the consequences of attempting to circumvent one's fate. The running theme of the play is blindness, and Oedipus is blind the way through, comparable in every way to Sampson of the Bible.

A quick-witted man at first glance, Oedipus soon showed himself to be arrogant and narrow-minded in his dealings with Tiresias, Creon, and the Old Man. After solving the puzzle of the Sphinx, he went on to unknowingly kill his father and try to save another city. His destiny was laid before him prior to his journeys, and by choosing to try to dodge it, he first showed his blindness. Tiresias was Oedipus' inverse at that point. He was the seer who had not vision while Oedipus had full use of his eyes, but was unwise and blinded to the events that circled him. Creon was cool-tempered and forgiving. After Oedipus harangued Creon with accusations of being in cahoots with Tiresias, Creon still wanted to bring the truth and have all be overlooked. At the end of the novel, Creon is kind towards Oedipus in his weakness, for even the strong fall. Oedipus is not aware that he has killed his father or is married to his own mother and has had children by her. As he realizes that the prophecies has come to pass because of and despite him, his alteration takes place.

Sampson was like Oedipus in many aspects of his character and life. Oedipus conquered the Sphinx; Sampson conquered an army using only a donkey's jawbone. Oedipus grew weaker and weaker until he finally discovered the truth and was held accountable, as was Sampson. Both engaged in sexual immorality, though one was less deliberate than the other. Towards the end of their lives they were both physically blinded, but could see the truth and stood more upright because of it. Both Sampson and Oedipus experienced a metamorphosis in which they were originally the greatest men, but by placing themselves and their "wisdom" above the gods or God's, they fell.

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The ultimate irony of "Oedipus Rex" is when Oedipus blinded himself. It was the only conclusion possible based on Sophocles' idea of harmartia and the moral he had in mind. The theme of change is portrayed in the course of events that leads Oedipus from a pedestal to blindness, and the philosophical reasoning that accompanied those outside events that are very similar to Sampson's biblical story. While Oedipus began with pride (this being his harmartia), he lost it and became ashamed until he could bare his hopeless character no more and punished himself. At that turning point, Oedipus' is broken, but knows the truth.


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