Sophocles ' Tragic Hero 's Quest For Self Knowledge Essay

789 Words Sep 26th, 2015 4 Pages
Oedipus Rex by Sophocles is a Greek tragedy that explores the mysterious murder of former king Laios of Thebes, cleverly connecting the “whodunit” mystery to the “human condition”, or incomplete knowledge. Using pervasive irony, symbolism, and other literary devices, Sophocles innovatively intertwines the murder mystery and the tragic hero 's quest for self-knowledge, paradoxically creating the illusion of progress when there 's only reflexive movement.
From the very beginning, Sophocles sets the duality between revealed knowledge and empirical knowledge, with the juxtaposition of the omniscient Apollo’s altar and the human, apparently powerful, human protagonist’s entry into the play. This simultaneously sets Oedipus en route on two journeys that are ironically inseparably intertwined. Determined to rid the once thriving city of Thebes of a devastating plague, Oedipus sends Kreon to the Delphic Oracles for advice, reminded of the unsolved murder of former King Laois and seeking to punish him in a twinge of dramatic irony. Setting with allusions to the Oedipal myth, the current Oedipus is ignorant of his origins, unknown of his unintentional murder and incest, ironically emphasized by the fame and glory he is depicted with. As he sets out, he meets with the blind seer Teiresias, leading into a heated stichomythia where Oedipus’ hamartia of ignorance is underscored and his quest for self-knowledge begins; while Teiresias is blind yet holds insight into Oedipus’ birth and…

Related Documents