John Wells November 5, 2014 Honors English 10/Ms. Schwartz

John Wells
November 5, 2014
Honors English 10/Ms. Schwartz
Oedipus Rex Theme Essay
A proud king whose goal was to find the murderer of the past king of his city, discovers it was
himself that did it. The plot twisting, tragedy of Oedipus Rex describes the fall of King Oedipus. In the
play, Sophocles says that no one can be fully responsible for their free will actions because it is their
The play begins with Oedipus searching for the killer of King Laios, Oedipus receives many clues
from the people he interviews.(compound sentence) One of the clues was from Jocasta, which was that
the prophecy stated that Laios’ son would kill him. Jocasta mentions earlier, “That his doom would be
death at the hands of his own son- his son, born of his flesh and of mine!” (Sophocles, 13). This quote
relates to the theme, by explaining fate. Laios was doomed to die and it could not be changed or
Oedipus’ arrogance leads him to blaming other characters, such as Creon and Teiresias. He
learns that he killed the king, from the Shepherd stating that Oedipus was the son of King Laios. Oedipus
says, “I think that I myself may be accurst by my own ignorant edict,” (Sophocles, 14). Oedipus suddenly
remembers killing many people at the same location where Laios died. This quote explains Oedipus’ free
will action of killing the king. Oedipus never meant to kill his father, but the prophecy said he had too.
Therefore, it was not his full responsibility.
The prophecy also states that the son of King Laios will sleep with his mother and bare offspring
with her. Oedipus now realizes that he was the son of Laios and is disgusted to find that he had
intercourse and children with his own mother, which was Jocasta. The Second Messenger quotes, “From
one to another of us he went, begging a sword, cursing the wife who was not his wife, the mother
whose womb had carried his own children and himself,” (Sophocles, 24). Jocasta commits suicide after
becoming aware of the horrifying truth. Oedipus stabs his eyes out with a knife and exclaims, “I,
Oedipus, Oedipus, damned in his birth, in his marriage, damned in the blood he shed with his own
hand!” (Sophocles, 23). This is another example of a free will action Oedipus was not responsible for.
Oedipus did not know Jocasta was his mother, but sleeping with her was his destiny.
Therefore, the tragedy of Oedipus Rex show how one’s actions cannot be fully responsible for
because it is one’s destiny. Oedipus never meant to kill his father his father or sleep with his mother, but
it was Oedipus’ fate. The connection between fate and free will matters today because it effects mostly
everyone. A young child it not responsible for burning his or her hand because of touching a hot stove
on purpose, nor is a person responsible for being stung by a bee by unknowingly walking next to a
beehive. People can commit actions by choice, but may not be responsible for them since they did not
know the consequence or the fate of it happening.