Light and Dark in Oedipus the King
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This tragedy is about fate and freedom: the freedom of the person is not about doing all that he wants, but in taking up responsibility even for what he doesn’t want.
In the tragedy "Oedipus the King» Sophocles puts one of the most important questions of the time - will of gods and free will of the person. The myth about the unfortunate King Oedipus views a collision of will of gods and the will of the person. The light side of the tragedy is that the person is stronger and on a higher level than before, the person is closer to the god but decides for himself. It shows strength of the humans mind, aspiration of the person to direct life at his own will. The dark side of the tragedy is that person’s will power separated from the god’s will leads finally to a tragedy. Maybe sometimes the person can't avoid the troubles intended by gods, but the reason of these troubles is his character which is shown in the actions conducting to execution of the god’s will. Free will of the person and his hopelessness is the main contradiction in the tragedy "Oedipus the King". ( X. J. Kennedy and Dana Gioia, 6th ed. New York,
NY 1995). The situation when the hero makes the decision based on belief in the independence of any foreign forces is the major idea of the tragedy. Oedipus makes the act of self-affirmation directed against Destiny. For the Destiny he is a weak-willed, impersonal, obviously doomed to acts, from his point of view, immoral and criminal. Oedipus's punishment over his eyes is his trial of the knowledge which got into forbidden thinks and didn't open the necessary thinks. The eyes looking outside carry the knowledge that turns outside, on the surface of things. We can feel the tragic irony in conversation of the able to see “blind” man Oedipus with a blind but sagacious person Tiresy, and the final complaint of chorus to the power of visibility force to see and Oedipus's self-dazzle in the same semantic context of antiposition of visibility and essence: deceived by evidence and begun to see clearly hidden thinks, Oedipus puts out his eyes which betrayed him. His sight addresses inside. The initial push to all further action is not murder of the father, but Oedipus's refusal to obey a prediction of the Delphic oracle, an aspiration by all means to avoid his implementation and influence. Here where Oedipus "breaks» rules for the first time, refusing to follow outlines coming from above. Here "crime" is realized and is justifiable by its morality. This situation when the hero makes the decision based on belief in the independence of any foreign forces is the major. Oedipus makes the act of self-affirmation directed against Destiny, for which he is a weak-willed, impersonal, obviously doomed to acts, immoral and criminal. This decision, protest and Oedipus's resistance fastens knot of all further events. Unconsciously perfect crimes are preceded by the conscious, moral, human act. And after murder, relieving Thebes of a monster, he besides acts not according to a program of the oracle, but showing his own intelligence. Oedipus becomes that person whom he is capable and can become, he learns about himself and his place in the world only in the course of fraught with contradictions and accidents of communication with other people. On a question «who I am? », Oedipus achieves deeper answer in development of action. He finds original knowledge and it essentially differs from Tiresy. The old man possesses knowledge which is granted to him by the highest forces at the same time with blindness. The knowledge isn't granted to Oedipus, he wins it, he breaks into it, to an essence hidden behind visibility, though it becomes more and more obvious, knowledge becomes for him unmasking. So, in "Oedipus the King" we observe not a self-knowledge, but break to truth during the action. Movable by a number of persons, it induces them to realize dialectically inconsistent communication between motives of the behavior in extreme situations and objective consequences of the acts. The author finds an attempt of restoration of former values in the tragedy. The need for restoration with the help of purely esthetic illusion appeared necessary, as the tragedy didn't already reflect a real integrity of life. In conflicts with that time the author of " Oedipus the King" recognizes the absolute power of the obsolete traditions personified in image of gods of the Olympus, and calls not only for "reconciliation" with them, but even to submissiveness to them. For Oedipus alone was impossible to open the terrible secret. But the «horizon" of his vision of the world extends more and more thanks to information received by him in the course of his communication with other people. After a terrible prophecy Oedipus could even loose his heart. During further events we can see not reasonable and careful person, anxious, like Laius, only about his rescue, but a person of high moral standards. He enters on a way of creation of the new moral corresponding to his ideas of human dignity. Observers of old norms ruthlessly resist to changes. Oedipus appears their worthy opponent. The constructive and creative act, made by him, dooms him to sufferings, but thus he creates himself as the personality. Tragic activity is shown differently: in his decisions, in his acts, in his cognizance. The process of a cognizance, Oedipus's break to truth about himself and about the world differs with the activity, which is getting deeper meaning.