Guilt In Oedipus Tyranus

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“Guilt”, as described by the Miriam-Webster Dictionary, is the “responsibility for a crime or for doing something bad or wrong”. The main characters, in both Othello and in Oedipus Tyrannus (as far as this essay is concerned the titular characters are the main characters, others may disagree), commit grave crimes; however, both Oedipus and Othello are unwitting. One is the victim of terrible fate, the other of the evil machinations of an evil man. The terrible circumstances of these characters leave us with the question of responsibility. The question of responsibility is dependent on whether intent and circumstances matters more than action. Oedipus and Othello nobly request that the onus of responsibility be put on them due to their…show more content…
The first level of interaction with the play is our understanding of Oedipus and Othello, the second level is our engagement with the broad worlds of their respective plots (included therein are the other characters as well as the mythology), and the third level is our understanding of the intent of the two playwrights, Sophocles and Shakespeare. Each level may have a different approach to the guilt of the characters, as well as tot the concept of guilt itself. It would therefore be wise to to look at each level individually before reconstructing a view of the concept of guilt in these two classic works. The further we move away from our tragic criminals, the greater the sympathy and sense of tragedy. Our criminals view themselves as completely culpable, the plot may place the blame elsewhere, and the playwrights are the ones who allow the blame to be relocated (perhaps to make a…show more content…
This is the very core interaction as they are the vehicles by which the tale gets told, without their tragic sin we have no plot to follow and no guilt to allocate. They are thus also the most zoomed in and most direct in their sin. Oedipus is the unwitting murderer of his father and lover of his mother, while Othello is the fallen husband who gets tricked into killing his own wife over a false suspicion. In their zoomed in perspective they can not, and do not, place the blame anywhere but upon themselves. Oedipus declares that regrets having been allowed to live and says: “Damn the men who set me free! Who…. Let me live! If he had let me die… I would not have come to this- killer of my father, bridegroom of the woman who gave me birth… My sins are mine alone to bear and touch no other men.” (pages 30-31). Othello condemns himself to hell saying: “Roast me in Sulfur!” (Act V, Scene II, line 288). Both Oedipus and Othello ordain punishment upon themselves, the former by blinding himself and the latter by killing himself. Both take on the guilt as their own. It is a noble calling of theirs, and is extraordinarily harsh. In turn, the reader is convinced that these tragic figures would have never chosen this road, and that it was not their intention. If intent matters more than action, then the guilt that they feel absolves them of guilt. Indeed, the second definition

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