“It is difficult to understand or justify Oedipus' actions, or to admire or sympathise with him. Discuss this statement in the light of the plays characterisation and events”
Throughout the play, Oedipus the King , Sophocles takes great care in characterising the protagonist. This is done to create a complex character with flaws, allowing Oedipus to be shown as a mere mortal. The audience has three levels at which to relate to Oedipus, on an intellectual level, an emotional level and a deeper moral level. As the events unfold in the play the audience is forced to constantly re-evaluate its position towards Oedipus as the contradictions in his character emerge. Throughout the play Oedipus is shown as an intellectual man, but this makes it hard for the audience to understand why he is blind to the truth, and refuses to take heed to the warnings given by Teiresias and others of his impending demise. In the beginning Oedipus is presented as a strong, powerful and clever man. As the play progresses, light is shed on the terrible events in Oedipus’ past, combined with his tragic fall from power, which evokes a growing pity in the audience. Oedipus’ character is ridden with flaws and when he falls from power he loses the respect of the audience as well as his people. However any sympathy for the character is balanced by the horror at his actions which the audience reacts to on a moral level.
It is difficult for the audience to understand why Oedipus is blind to the truth of his past. When Oedipus first comes to Thebes, he proves himself as an intelligent man, by solving the sphinxes riddle which no-one else could do. Therefore he is acknowledged amongst his countrymen as someone who has great wit and intelligence. However, Oedipus, with all his intelligence cannot see the truth, and does not take heed to the warnings given to him by Treisias. Oedipus is warned that ‘the killer of Laius – that man is here’ . Oedipus’ fate is also foretold,
‘He that came...