Oedipus Rex

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate August 2001

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The play by Sophocles called Oedipus the King is an interesting one. It brings to the surface of every reader's minds some questions. Some to do with the history of Greek times, as well as some to do with basic Human behavior. Simply talking about them and looking at them deeply can answer some. While others have to be left unanswered and left in the worlds to come.

An interesting question that came to my mind while reading this novel was the reality of things such as fate and destiny. I have always knew that those could be a possibility but I had never thought about them very much until after reading this book. The thought of a predetermined future awaiting us all can scare some people as well as depress them. The thought of no matter what you do you will always end up doing a certain thing is kind of scary to think about.

I personally do not believe in fate or destiny. As we can change our present in a matter of seconds. You can always change what you have either to improve of lessen your life. To the characters in the novel however they believed in the prophecy of the gods, which informed them that their son would grow up and kill and replace his father as king. This terrified the mother and father so much that they gave their son to a slave to kill it. However the slave did not kill it, whether that was part of the prophecy having the killing not take place, who knows. However the child grew up with a different dad and did however live into the prophecy handed down to him.

Another question about human behavior that this book by Sophocles raises is the question of incest and their human instincts. The mother married her son and may have had children, this is called incest. The question brought up there is how they could have done that. That goes against humanity, it is wrong. However they appeared to not know that they were related. When they found out however they were terrified and embarrassed. The King Oedipus stabbed his eyes out while his mother/wife hung herself. This shows that they were both disgusted and embarrassed to live in what they were living as.

Another question that it brings to mind is the question of killing babies. The queen wanted this baby killed so that it wouldn't grow up and have the possibility of living into the prophecy of killing his father. This could be also known as murder since the mother ordered this person to be destroyed. Sure what the child was suppose to do when he got older would be considered murder as well, but she didn't have to kill him on the basis of a prophecy. This question can be referred to in the times today as mercy killing or euthanasia. They are still greatly debated and are hard to come to some reason with those involved.

Over all I think that this book raises some important questions about human behavior, some that cannot be answered by reading this book again or talking to even the most knowledgeable people in this subject. For more than 2000 years these basic questions about human behavior are still being vigorously debated in today's society. The questions are important and they should be thought about in everyday life.