The Retelling of the Play by Sophocles Oedipus Rex - Analytical Essay Sample

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With the plague that had hit Thebes, it was important for its king Oedipus to consult on the issue that was troubling his kinship. He was determined to find out the root cause of the problem, he says (Dawe 143), "Pity you, children. I know you all are sick, yet not one of you suffers as much as I. My heart grieves and I have wept many tears due to this. I have thought of only one hope, one remedy: I sent Creon, my brother-in-law, to ask Apollo at his temple how I could save this city. He has gone far longer than he needed for the journey. But when he comes, then I shall do all the God commands."

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After broad consultation, it was discovered that the problem was within the kinship Creon says (Dawe 27), "A good word. Apollo commanded us to drive out pollution from our land, pollution that is nourished here. Drive it out and we are saved." This came as a wake-up call and it triggered Oedipus to do something about the situation they were currently facing in the land. Investigations began and finally, the truth was discovered, the main suspect was no one else but king Oedipus. King Oedipus truly loved his people and this truly is what pushed him to have the man responsible for the death of the previous king Laius brought to book.

In Oedipus the King What Is the Theme of Truth?

Little did he know that he was the one responsible for king Laius’s death. Apollo the prophet says (Dawe 67), "Did you not understand before? Would you provoke me into speaking? You are the murderer of the king."

King Oedipus would have only made the matter worse if he would have decided not to unturn the stones that were turned concerning the death of King Laius. This would have been bad for both the people of Thebes and King Oedipus because it is from this that he came to realize that the people he knew as his parents were not his actual parents. If by any chance he would have decided to brush off the issue, it would have definitely continued to bother the land of Thebes and as such, the truth would one day come out to the open. They say that the truth is bitter, I agree because the revelation of this issue brought a lot of pain and anguish to king Oedipus.

The truth will always set you free, and that also applies in this situation. King Oedipus would never have peace-living and ruling people who were in anguish. It is every leader’s joy to see his people living in peace and harmony. Knowing the truth is therefore very important, the truth revealed that the prophecy that was made years ago that Oedipus would kill his father and lie with his maternal mother finally came to pass. It was through the search for truth that this was discovered, has not been discovered, the act of incest between mother and son would have continued. King Oedipus was also brave enough to face the consequences of his actions; he felt it was necessary to pay for what he did regardless of the fact that he was the king of Thebes.


Jocasta too was hurt and she regretted what she had done, the truth hurt her greatly as well, realizing that she was married to her son. After this, both of them decide to inflict pain on themselves the messenger reported (Dawe 217), "By her own hand. The worst of what was done you cannot know." When she came raging into the house, she went straight to her marriage bed tearing her hair with both hands and crying to Laius. Then Oedipus burst upon us shouting and he begged us, "Give me a sword!" Into the room, he rushed and saw his wife hanging the twisted rope around her neck. He cried out fearfully and cut the dangling noose. Then, as she lay on the ground, what happened after was terrible to see. He tore the brooches from her and lifted them up high and dashed them into his own eyeballs, shrieking out such things as: "They will never see the crime I have committed. Dark eyes, now in the days to come to look at forbidden faces, do not recognize those whom you long for." In addition, he struck his eyes repeatedly. With every blow, blood spurted down his cheeks.

Oedipus the King Important Quotes

  • “Fear? What has a man to do with fear? Chance rules our lives, and the future is all unknown. Best live as we may, from day to day.”

  • “How terrible-- to see the truth when the truth is only pain to him who sees!”

  • “In time you will know this well: For a time, and time alone will show the just man, though scoundrels are discovered in a day. ”

  • “Let every man in mankind's frailty Consider his last day; and let none presume on his good fortune until he finds Life, at his death, a memory without pain.”

  • “Give me a life wherever there is an opportunity to live, and a better life than was my father's.”

  • “I have no desire to suffer twice, in reality, and then in retrospect.”

  • “To throw away an honest friend is, as it were, to throw your life away”

Work Cited

Dawe, R.D. ed. 2006 Sophocles: Oedipus Rex, revised edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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