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Oedipus Rex, a Victim of Fate or a Tyrant

“In 1834 poet and critic Samuel Taylor Coleridge described this play as one of three works of literature with perfect plots; in 1900 Freud plucked out the name Oedipus for his theory of a son’s unconscious sexual longing for his mother; in 1974 lyrics to a song in the film “That’s Entertainment” jauntily croon of “Oedipus Rex, where a chap kills his father and starts a lot of bother” (Mallison 20).

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Sophocles’ Oedipus is a hero, victimized by his father because of a warning of the oracle before his birth. He is rescued by a shepherd and raised by other parents. Using his valor, he gets back his kingdom and gets a beautiful wife in acknowledgment of his brave deeds. But then he figures out that he killed his true father and got married to his true mother. Jocasta, his mother, and his wife commit suicide after becoming aware of the fact that she is a wife to her son. After that Oedipus puts out his eyes (Downs 95-96). We can observe Oedipus’s tenderness for his daughters Antigone and Ismene at the end of the play, but it finishes the scene of incest and inhalation in the family. The king makes his sons leave their homes with the traditional remark that men can better take care of themselves. After that Oedipus concentrates all his affection, grief, and sadness on his daughters Antigone and Ismene. This is a behavioral model but not an impulsive response. The king always insisted on his daughters sitting beside him during a meal, and eating from all dishes that he was eating from, while his sons were sitting at a certain distance and were disregarded. This long-term favor of the king for his daughters is a common fact. Creon, for example, is so extremely cognizant of it that he expects the king’s hope and brings his daughters even before Oedipus asks him to do this (Nassar 187). In the scene, narrated by the Second Messenger, the king frightened by the truth and upset by his disclosure that Jocasta has committed suicide, initially gets his Jocasta to the ground and then puts out his eyes with the help of pins. Professor Frank suggests that Jocasta’s rope is a connection, that here we have a change of roles, in which Jocasta becomes Oedipus who had to die from shepherd’s hands. Then, he blinds himself. It is sometimes captivating in literary critique to search for a sexual parallel in an ambitious tool, but one should cautiously create such a parallel on implications and affirmations in the text (Green 2).

The scientists of the twentieth century momentarily re-valuate the interrelations between destiny and free will, temper, and action in Sophocles’ epic. “The litmus is always the unforgettable story of the lame king who becomes a scapegoat, and who blinds himself at the precise point when he is no longer blind to the truth of which his audience, in this paradigmatic exercise in dramatic irony, has been painfully aware all along” (Hall XX). Oedipus may be considered guilty of his father’s murder and incest with his mother, though he is not. It is not easy to believe that a great king, a just governor might act as a brutal murderer. Oedipus acted without being aware of his true background, without knowing who his true parents are.

Works Cited

Downs, B. Robert. Books That Changed the World. Signet Classic, 2004.

Green, M. Janet. “Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex”. The Explicator 52 (1993): 2.

Hall, Edith. Antigone, Oedipus the King, Electra. Oxford world’s classics. The world’s classics. Oxford University Press, 1998.

Mallison, Jane. Book smart: your essential reading list for becoming a literary genius in 365 days. McGraw-Hill Professional, 2007.

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Nassaar, S. Christopher. “Sophocles’ Oedipus the King”. The Explicator 55 (1997): 187.

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StudyCorgi. (2021, November 8). Oedipus Rex, a Victim of Fate or a Tyrant.

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"Oedipus Rex, a Victim of Fate or a Tyrant." StudyCorgi, 8 Nov. 2021,

1. StudyCorgi. "Oedipus Rex, a Victim of Fate or a Tyrant." November 8, 2021.


StudyCorgi. "Oedipus Rex, a Victim of Fate or a Tyrant." November 8, 2021.


StudyCorgi. 2021. "Oedipus Rex, a Victim of Fate or a Tyrant." November 8, 2021.


StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Oedipus Rex, a Victim of Fate or a Tyrant'. 8 November.

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