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Downfall of Oedipus and Medea - Essay Example

However, like all other tragedies this play also focuses on the downfall of Oedipus and interestingly enlightens the readers about power struggle between God and Man. Edith Hall also says, “Oedipus can only fulfill his exceptional god-ordained destiny because Oedipus is a preeminently capable and intelligent human being” (xvi). Although the ending of the play reiterates the fact that man is a puppet in the hands of fate and Gods. 2.1. Oedipus and his Intelligence The episode of Oedipus’s confrontation with the Sphinx is a testimony against his super intelligent brain. As Oedipus himself says, “When the Sphinx, that singing bitch, was here… Her riddle was not something the first man to stroll along could solve—a prophet was required. But then I came, Oedipus, who knew nothing. Yet I finished her off, using my wits rather than relying on birds” (Sophocles lines 469-478). From this point onwards the readers observe that Oedipus starts considering himself super human and the readers start realizing that he is forgetting his status of a mere mortal. The Priest also tries to remind him of his status of a human being by saying, “you are not divine so confine within your human limitations” (Sophocles 54). In contrast to Oedipus’s intelligence, Sophocles presents the readers with Teiresias who behaves like a man of wisdom yet he fears Gods and knows his place although he also attained his level of wisdom after losing his physical sight. Hence, regardless of Oedipus’s over intelligence Teiresias realizes that he is the most ignorant of men. Teiresias voices his opinion by saying, “How dreadful it can be to have wisdom when it brings no benefit” (Sophocles 374-376). 2.2. Oedipus and his Pride Oedipus because of his intelligence begins to consider himself invincible, which can be equated to his arrogance or pride. This invincibility can be interpreted from his dialogues with Teiresias where he repeatedly asserts his higher intellect as he also says at one point, “Mock my excellence, but you will find out I am truly great” (Sophocles 534-535). Sophocles strategically places Teiresias’s character in order to remind Oedipus of his follies though to no avail as he bluntly says to Oedipus, “That quality of yours now ruins you” (Sophocles 536). ‘That quality’ which Teiresias refers to can be perceived as both a reference to his over intelligence as well as his arrogance. 2.3. Oedipus and Fate Although it is observed that all the action that takes place in the play occurs according to the prophecies. Yet the readers cannot ignore the fact that the idea of fate or prophecy is an abstract idea. This conclusion can be drawn fro Teiresias’s comment that, “Yet events will still unfold, for all my silence. It is not your fate to fall because of me” (Sophocles 407-409). Teiresias here clearly declares that fate or prophecy has nothing to do with the Oedipus’s approaching suffering but it is Apollo is the actual cause of Oedipus’s suffering and pain. 2.4. Oedipus and Apollo The relation between the mortal and the God can be categorized as an apt explication of power struggle. Oedipus says, “When a man has no fear of doing the act, he’ ...Show more


Writer Customer Philosophy 16 April 2012 Downfall of Oedipus and Medea 1. Introduction Any tragedy results because of the actions of an individual. As Aristotle also believes that that, “tragedy is a process of imitating an action which has serious implications… not presented through narratives; through a course of pity and fear completing the purification of tragic acts which have those emotional characteristics” (25)…
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Downfall of Oedipus and Medea essay example
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