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Reasons for Downfall of Sophocles’ Oedipus the King

Oedipus the King is a well-known tragedy about ancient Greeks and the king of Thebes written by Sophocles. The content attracts the reader’s attention for many reasons, and one of them is the development of the events that result in the main character’s killing his father and marrying his mother. The combination of fate and human decisions intrigues and inspires, and, from time to time, it is hard to understand the line between physical and supernatural powers. However, regardless of the existing attitudes toward the story, it is possible to say that Oedipus is responsible for his own downfall because of his pride, knowledge demonstration, and ambiguous confidence.

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One of the reasons for Oedipus’s downfall is his pride. Despite evident controversies between fate and free will in the play, Oedipus remains the only person who suffers from his pride. In his conversation with the prophet, Teiresias, the king shows his arrogance to any advice and recommendation. He says that it is the responsibility of the prophet to inform, but his “shameful words” provoke “anger” in which he “will not conceal just what I make of this” (Sophocles 10). Instead of taking some lessons and relying on the already offered recommendations, Oedipus is obsessed with his feelings and concerns about unfair treatment and predictions. He is blind with his pride and continues making wrong choices that bring him to a tragic end.

Another significant characteristic of Oedipus that could explain his failure is his knowledge and the inability to use it properly. The man deals with all Sphynx’s riddles and proves his awareness of many subjects, admiring his skills and observations. He accuses Teiresias, who “said nothing to set the people free” and was challenged by the question that “was not something the first man to stroll along could solve” (Sophocles 11). Oedipus’s knowledge turns out to be his major source of pride, which, as a result, ended with his downfall.

Finally, his confidence also rises proportionally to his pride and knowledge, creating new problems for the safety of his future. At the beginning of the story, Oedipus addresses his children, “latest generation born from Cadmus,” and introduces himself as a person “whose fame all men acknowledge” (Sophocles 2). However, the story is not as simple and definite as it is expected to be. With time, the king begins asking questions and searching for the truth that would destroy him. Learning from Jocasta that he was the murderer of his father, he faces the worse scenario where he sets himself “under a dreadful curse without my knowledge” (Sophocles 20). His confidence in doing everything right and with dignity prevents clear judgments and evaluations. Thus, he cannot play with fate anymore and has to accept the reality that his downfall is because of his provocative confidence and power pursuits.

In conclusion, the story of Oedipus demonstrates how vain human intentions to play with faith can be. He does not want to kill his father or use his knowledge for some negative purposes, but the prophecy has strange and impressive power. Relying on his awareness and confidence, Oedipus is not able to deal with his pride. This mess of feelings, experiences, and knowledge explains his responsibility in his downfall. Unintentionally, he takes human lives, determines his own faith, and terminates the progress of his generation. Oedipus the King is not just an ancient story but a mysterious political thriller that teaches not to take personal strengths for granted.

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Sophocles. Oedipus the King. Web.

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