level: grade 10 honors
subject: English / Oedipus Rex
score: A
Title: The Transformation of Oedipus
When Oedipus, as a young man, first learned from one of Apollo92s
oracles that he
was destined to murder his father and marry his mother, he fled his home in
attempting to defy the prophecy, and he wandered the roads of Greece. In hi
he happened upon another traveler who obstructed his path. Being too proud
to detour
from his course and let this other man through, Oedipus killed him.

He went on to become king of Thebes by marrying the residing queen,

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Under Oedipus92 rule, the city saw immediate and lasting prosperity. But
fifteen years
down the line, a plague swept over Thebes, and the only cure for the city92
troubles was
for its former king Laius92 murderer to be brought to justice. Laius had
fifteen years earlier, shortly before Oedipus arrived in Thebes and solved
the riddle of the
sphinx, freeing the city from its clutches. Oedipus sends for the omniscien
Tiresias, who
is reluctant to reveal the implicating information to the king, but Oedipus
refuses to let
his pride falter, so he blindly pursues the identity of the murderer, unawar
that he is on a
mission of self-incrimination. Tiresias92 words lead Oedipus to learn that
Laius was his
both his father and the former king of Thebes, not to mention the traveler
that Oedipus
killed on his passage to Thebes. So he punishes himself by gouging out his
eyes, in
retribution for his crimes.

It is often said the Oedipus was fated to doom, that he could have
done nothing;
to the contrary, Oedipus spent every moment of his life digging his own
grave. His
excessive pride and arrogance, as well as his notion that he could challenge
a prophecy
from the gods, were the shovel he dug with. All the important decisions he
made in his
lifetime, he made with this hubris. His judgements were all the foundation
for his
demise; he, not fate, constructed his path to doom.

After the drunkard at a party in his home of Corinth blurted out 93You
are not your
father92s son,94 Oedipus embarked on a journey to Delphi to learn the vali
of this
statement. But he learned much more important matters upon arriving, namely
infamous prophecy that he would kill his father and couple with his mother,
who, to his
knowledge, were Polybus and Merope, the king and queen of Corinth. So Oedip
abandoned his life in the city of those who had raised him. This outright
mocking of the
gods92 prophecy was a big step in Oedipus92 downfall. He thought he could
outrun the
prediction, but instead, his arrogance pushed him into its grasp in Thebes,
where his real
parents, Laius and Jocaste, reigned.

His own pride would again bring him to fulfill the destiny he dreaded
so much on
the way to Thebes. He would not stray slightly from his path to let Laius
by, and he
killed him. Oedipus had much more pride than it took to simply attempt to
invalidate the
prophecy by refraining from murder altogether; his arrogance led him to kill
a stranger.

Had he been able to swallow his conceitedness and let Laius by, Oedipus woul
not have
proceeded to the midpoint of the prophecy. By killing his father, he
fulfilled the first half
of it.

Oedipus goes on believing that his Corinthian caretakers were his
parents up to and through the death of Polybus, who fell of natural causes.
In fact, this
reinforces Oedipus92 false belief that he could defy Apollo92s prophecy,
furthering his
pompous nature. Tiresias sees that Oedipus92 pride counters his desire for
excruciating truth, and hesitates to tell him. To Oedipus, this is a
challenge of the king92s
authority. He wants desperately to prove to the people of Thebes that he ha
saved them
before and can do it again. Unwilling to accept defeat before the populatio
of the city,
he accuses Tiresias and Creon of treason. As he pushes Tiresias for more
information on
Laius92 murderer, he pushes for his own defeat, visionless from his own pride.

Not content with Tiresias92 riddle that reveals to the audience, who
are not blind
like the Thebian king, that Oedipus is the killer, Oedipus probes deeper into
the mystery.

He disregards the beckoning of his wife Jocaste to not look further into the
puzzle and
becomes a detective on the trail to expose himself. Determined not to look
weak in front
of Thebes, Oedipus has neglected the warnings of both a prophet and his wife

He tries
looking everywhere but inside himself, where the answer is closer. He would
have saved
himself loads of trouble had he only taken a step back from the entire
fiasco, and seen
that all leads point the finger at him. But his pride was his blindfold, hi
hubris his
In the end, Oedipus learns what has been under his nose the whole
time, what he
was unable to see because of his tragic flaw. The flaw that has been killin
him slowly
since his birth. Oedipus92 arrogance took away his eyes, and it is ironic
that only when he
physically gouged out his own eyes with Jocaste92s pins was he able to see.
At that point,
he knew that he could not escape the prophecy; he knew that was too proud to
ever make
a correct judgement. Before, Oedipus was the epitome of what was desired in
society; he
had power, a wife, and wealth. Alas, his wife committed suicide, and he
renounced his
reign over Thebes, rejecting the power and the wealth. But in doing so, he
something infinitely more valuable yet infinitely less tangible: wisdom. He
insight into himself, something he had lacked for all his life. Hubris
killed Oedipus the
King, and humility created the new Oedipus.