Theme Of Responsibility In Oedipus The King

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Fate and Personal Responsibility in Oedipus the King In Sophocles 's Oedipus the King, Oedipus suffers a tragic fate after learning that he is the cause of the plague that is devastating his city. Although Oedipus does not directly bring the plague into to the city, it becomes increasingly clear throughout the play that the plague is a punishment from the gods for unknowingly killing his father and marrying his mother. The play begins in the middle of things, so understanding the preceding events is critical in understanding who is responsible for the tragedy. Before the play begins, King Laius of Thebes and his wife Jocasta abandon their son Oedipus and leave him for dead after an oracle tells them their son is fated to kill his …show more content…
He believes that Oedipus can be held responsible, because Oedipus tried to run away from the prophecy rather than inquiring about it. Perhaps it is Oedipus’s belief that he can evade the will of the gods and traveling to Thebes that caused the prophecy to be fulfilled. Or perhaps by trying to learn more about the prophecy, he could have delayed the events that are bound to take place. Whatever the case is, Oedipus should have worked at facing his fate rather than trying to escape it, and he can be held responsible for the …show more content…
I say you are the murderer of the king whose murderer you seek.
OEDIPUS. Not twice you shall say calumnies like this and stay unpunished.
TEIRESIAS. Shall I say more to tempt your anger more?
OEDIPUS. As much as you desire; it will be said in vain. (395-399)
Teiresias admits that Oedipus is the killer of King Laius and Oedipus threatens him in return. Teiresias then offers to tell Oedipus more, even though he knows it will only make Oedipus angrier. But Oedipus has heard enough and tells Teiresias that he will not listen. In stark contrast to his humble appeal, Oedipus is angered when he hears what he believes to be Teiresias’s lies and threatens him. The fact that Oedipus says Teiresias’s words “will be said in vain,” show that he is unwilling to hear the oracle’s explanation. Although Oedipus has the chance to expedite his own punishment and put an end to the plague, his great pride acts as an obstacle, and Oedipus refuses to listen to Teiresias. Thus, Oedipus is partially responsible for the suffering brought about by the plague, because he had the power to stop

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