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The Movie “Oedipus Rex” by Alfredo Bini

Introduction

The drama, Oedipus, began with a plague bringing distraction and misery at the city of Thebes where the people, lead by a priest, gather in front of the palace to seek council from the great Oedipus the king. Oedipus was a new king of the city for the previous ruler, Laius was murdered while travelling outside the city and the place fell under the rule of the Sphinx. It was only when Oedipus solved the riddle that Thebes became free. When Oedipus saved the city he won the heart of the previous King Laius’ widow, the Queen Jacasta (Oedipus Rex).

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Oedipus had sent his brother in law, Creon, to seek council from the oracle of Delphi. The latter arrived on the scene informing the king and the public that the plague is caused by something impure, a religious pollution. The death of the previous king Laius brought the plague to the city of Thebes and unless the murderer of the king won’t be found and punish the plague will continue. Oedipus vowed before his people that they will catch the murderer. He called for the blind prophet Tiresias for help but the latter refused to answer Oedipus’ questions. This angered the king. After Oedipus’ constant pressure and perusal, Tiresias tells the king that Oedipus himself murdered the King Laius. Oedipus was angered by what the prophet said. Oedipus was left to think that his brother in law Creon had plotted to undermine his kingship by sending the blind oracle to undermine him. After Tiresias tells Oedipus that he is the one who murdered his own father and that he has committed incest by marrying his mother leaves the scene. Creon is called upon by Oedipus and the former arrives. The king and his brother in law argue with the former accusing the latter of treason. Oedipus demands that Creon be executed. Jocasta enters the scene and ends the quarrel between the two. She comforts her husband by telling him that prophecies are not accurate and reliable. She relates this claim to her own personal experience. The queen told Oedipus that many years ago she and Lauis received an oracle that Lauis will be killed by his own son but Lauis was killed by bandits at the crossroads when he was on his way to Delphi. Oedipus paused for awhile when he heard Jocasta saying that Laius was killed at the crossroads. She pointed out that there was one survivor from the attack and they both agree to have the man sent to the palace for questioning. Jocasta was confused with her husband’s questioning. She asked him what worried him. Oedipus informs Jocasta that one night a strange drunken man told him that he was not the son of Polybus but rather of another man. He was not at ease with such news thus he went to the oracle of Delphi to confirm. Instead of answering his questions, the oracle told him a prophecy that one day he would murder his own father and marry his own mother. Oedipus feared such prophecy thus he left Corinth. While he was travelling, he got into a fight with a grey haired man with the same built as him as Jacasta described at the crossroads. He killed the man. Oedipus feared that the man he killed was Laius but he still had hope for Jocasta claimed that her previous husband was killed by a group of robbers and not by one man. While waiting for the witness, a messenger from Corinth arrives in the scene. The man informs the king that his father, King Polybus, has died. Oedipus and Jocasta were happy with the news for it proved the prophecy to be false. The messenger informed Oedipus that he was not his father and mother’s son. The messenger was a shepherded from Mount Cithaeron. He informed Oedipus that the baby came from the kingdom of King Laius and that it was given to him by another shepherded who worked for the king. This baby was given to Polybus and Merope for the couple was childless. This baby was Oedipus. Oedipus was informed that the shepherded who gave away the baby was the same man who witnessed the murder of King Laius. Realizing the truth, Jocasta begs Oedipus to stop asking details. She runs inside the palace and locks herself up. In her chambers, the queen hangs herself (Oedipus Rex).

The shepherded begged Oedipus to excuse him for he did not want to answer the questions of the king. He asked the king if he could leave. Oedipus pressed and threatened him with execution and torture until the shepherded confirmed that the child he took from the palace was Jocasta’s. The queen had sent the child away to be killed because she and her previous husband feared a prophecy that one day the child would kill his own father. Oedipus went inside the palace in a range of anger and despair. He called out for his sword for he realized what he had done. He discovers Jocasta’s body in their bedroom. He took the golden pins that held Jocasta’s dress together and blinded himself using the pins. He then exits the palace and encounters Creon. He begs the latter to send him into exile immediately for he is the impure being causing the plague. He killed his own father and slept with his own mother. Creon informed Oedipus that they need to consult the oracle first before doing anything (Oedipus Rex).

Relationship between Fate and Agency

Fate plays an important role in the drama. Society is shaped and dependent on prophecies given by oracles. It seems the course of events happen because of the prophecies. For one Lauis and Jocosta sent away their child to be killed because of a prophecy. Oedipus left Corinth because of a prophecy also. In the end, all their efforts went to waste because their fates did not changed. The agency has strong belief on the power of fate thus whatever their destinies may be they follow the words of oracles. Their actions are based upon such words that all courses of events in the drama can be attributed to fate. The people of Thebes suffer from a plague which was caused by the murder of King Laius. This murder was foreseen many years before by the oracle. The king of Thebes was warned by such which caused him to send away his own son. Oedipus was also informed that one day he will kill his own father thus he too went into exile. All events took place and fulfilled their given fate thus the agency too suffers from such fate. The relationship between fate and agency in the drama Oedipus the King is the former shapes the latter in terms of decisions and actions. The drama has depicted that we cannot escape our own destinies no matter how much we change the course and flow of things. The characters were informed about their fates and they tried to prevent such from happening by taking other preventive actions. These actions led them to fulfill their prophecies.

Humans being Blameless

One may think that humans are not to blame for the courses of events that happened in the drama but I personally believe that one is responsible for his own actions. Though the story depicts that there are some things that cannot be controlled by mortals, still there are better solutions. The king and queen of Thebes had their son sent away and be killed because of fear that one day he will murder his own father and commit incest with his own mother. The couple’s actions in solving the problem and avoiding the prophecy were impure. Bloodshed is never a solution. I believe, this is why the prophecy came true and why their fates are cursed. It is because of their cruelty and inhumane means that bad things happen to the characters. If the couple only kept and took care of the child, loved him and educated him by their side then such prophecy might not have came true. If Oedipus did not leave the city of Corinth, he could not have encountered Laius in the crossroads. Oedipus was informed by the oracle of Delphi that he would kill his own father. There was already doubt with his parentage and it has been said by the oracle that he would murder someone thus he could have not killed a stranger for he might have been his own father.

The characters were ignorant. They only blindly believed in their means and never think things through. They rely so much on prophecies and words of the oracles that they forget to clearly see the situation and analyze. Humans are not blameless. We are responsible for every course of action we take. We are liable to our own fates thus whatever we get out of life, we deserve it. Oedipus deserved his kingship in the city of Thebes for he had solved the riddle of the Sphinx but he could not have been punished by his own fate for he killed a man in the crossroads. Killing is immoral thus the gods had their way of punishing him and in the process he had fulfilled the prophecy of the oracles.

To blame fate for your own actions is being irresponsible. We all deserve what we get now and it is through thinking things through carefully that we realize this fact. To say that humans are blameless only means that the people surrender everything to fate but fate is shaped by human action so humans are not blameless because every action we take results to our own fates.

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Responsibility of Joy and Suffering

Being joyful or to suffer is subjective. A joyous event for one may be considered a suffering for another. Nevertheless, we are responsible for our own joys and sufferings. I had mentioned that humans are responsible for their own fates and that they are to be blamed for their own actions thus it is also in this line that our own joys and sufferings are our own responsibilities. What is joyful to one may be considered a suffering to another but it is through our own actions that specific events become joyful or suffering. For example, to lose a child may be considered a suffering for King Laius and Queen Jocosta but it has given joy to King Polybus and Queen Merope for they were the ones who received the child of the former couple. Everything is subjective but it is only our own feelings and perceptions of things that determine our happiness and sorrows.

Because humans shape our own destinies through our own means of actions, we are responsible for our own joys and sufferings. Our own actions determine such and no one else. The gods and prophecies may serve as guides and glimpse to our own futures but it is us, humans that fulfills such fates. For every action we execute, there is a corresponding outcome which would lead us to our own fate. To rob off the joy of one for your very own will result to suffering as to what happened to Oedipus. The gods must have foreseen the man’s heart before he was born thus he was cursed. Though, in the story, we can believe that Oedipus seemed to be a good man but to take a life has its consequences. He was punished by the fact that he killed his own father and has bore children through his own mother. He punished himself by exile and by blinding himself for he has been blinded by the truth with his able eyes.

Our own joys and sufferings are our own responsibility and no one else. It is a cause and effect analysis. For every action, there is a reaction and we are the only ones responsible for our own actions thus the outcomes are controlled by ourselves. To enjoy and/ or suffer a happening or event is our reward and/or consequence of our own actions. One good deed may lead to a rewarding experience or a bad deed can curse us. It is up to us to control our fates.

Conclusion

Oedipus the King has been a thrilling drama which reminds me of how the ancient Greeks relied on their gods for every detail of their lives. Their own fates are left to the gods to decide as the mention of Zeus and Apollo grew constantly in the play. The drama depicts a society relies on prophecies to solve their problems. The people of Thebes in the story depend on their king to solve problems. I feel that they are lazy to come up with their own solutions. On the other hand we see Oedipus, as a proud man but he too was fearful of the gods and like the characters in the story he allowed prophecies to shape his own fate. The relationship between fate and agency is that the agency leaves its fate to the gods and prophecies. The people do not take responsibility in their own fates but rather leave everything to be decided by the gods. Humans are not blameless but rather they should be blamed for every action or happening. We shape our own destinies thus we are responsible for our own happiness or sorrow.

Works Cited

Oedipus Rex. Ex. Prod. Alfredo Bini. Italy: Euro International Films. 1967. DVD.

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