Taking Responsibility In Oedipus The King, By Sophocles

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The verdict of a scenario can depend on the judge's point of view and understanding of the subject. Innocence is defined as not guilty of a crime or offense, though since Oedipus is ignorant to the true nature of his actions is he therefore morally blameless? In “Oedipus the King”, by Sophocles, the innocence of Oedipus is a debated subject with many factors that contribute to the outcome. It is clear that the man in question, Oedipus, feels guilty of his past actions;this is shown through blinding himself after learning the truth. Though the moral question of the play for the reader is whether Oedipus can be held culpable for his actions. “Oedipus the King” captures the sense of being caught in a merciless trap called fate. Oedipus is destined…show more content…
Many other characters are more responsible for the outcome than Oedipus himself, the biggest perpetrators being Laius and Jocasta. The inhumane duo chose to believe the oracle and lay waste to their newborn son's life, committing infanticide. When Oedipus was just three days old they “fastened his ankles, had a henchmen fling him away on a barren, trackless mountain”(Sophocles 792-793). There were other, more morally correct options to choose from in such a situation. This includes keeping the child close and carefully watched, or simply killing it quickly and painlessly instead of leaving it for the wolves. The shepherd is also guilty, as it was he who knew of Oedipus’ fate, who disobeyed his king and took mercy on a child whom would grow to kill his king and marry his queen. Oedipus’ adoptive parents were adamant on not telling the truth about his origins, when questioned they were “enraged at the accusation”(Sophocles 863-864). This led to Oedipus truly believing that Polybus and Merope were his blood parents, and later to thinking that he was going to kill Polybus and marry Merope. If those in Oedipus’ life were honest with him than he would have never left Corinth where he ran into his true parents, thus fulfilling the…show more content…
Oedipus is raised as a prince of Corinth, a title that would have taught him that others were to move aside for him, not the other way around. When a man from Laius’ group shoves Oedipus aside he retaliates in anger, “I killed them-every mother’s son!”(Sophocles 898). As a prince this is a justified action, since being pushed aside is considered disrespect toward Oedipus and the royal family of Corinth. Oedipus has no way of knowing that the people he killed at the crossroads included King Laius of Thebes, let alone that King Laius is his father and that he had completed part of the prophecy. Had it been the other way around and Oedipus had lost the battle, King Laius’ alibi would have also been for reasons of honor: for reasons of royalty. In the end Oedipus did not kill his father, but a stranger he met on the road. He walks away from the scene of the crossroads with no more guilt than a man who killed a disrespectful stranger who got in the way of his journey. When the prince arrives in Thebes and defeats the Sphinx, Oedipus is hailed king by the country and soon marries the widowed queen, Jocasta. He has no idea that his awarded wife is also his mother, and no way of knowing that the mother of himself is the mother of his

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