Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Oedipus' Answer

"I must obey, though it gives me no pleasure."

Sophocles, the author of the classic tragic play, Oedipus Rex, appears to be a strong believer in fate. Though destiny is not as widely popular in our “make your own way in the world with hard work” society, lessons can still be learned today from Oedipus of more than 2,000 years ago.

As the play opens, Oedipus appears to have freedom as the king, a figure who hypothetically should have the ability to do as he so wish. Many people today believe that those in power and great authority have a greater freedom. Yes, a millionaire can afford to live a lavish lifestyle as he pleases, but great authority such as the president actually carries more responsibilities Othan most daunting professions. Oedipus is alike the president, but rather, in this day and age he is king. Instead of using his power for freedom he chooses to be responsible to his people by serving as a good and just king, and judging by quick glances he does a pretty good job balancing responsibility with freedom. The people look up to Oedipus as he appears to be happy and great with personal freedom by running from the prophecy and balancing the responsibility of his nobility. At this point, Oedipus is at peace because he believes that he has ignored his responsibility to his fate, choosing personal responsibility.

Though he appears free in his ignorance, Oedipus is slave to the fate he cannot see.

Once Oedipus is blind and with new knowledge, he gains a different kind of personal freedom by fleeing his responsibility as a king, and relying solely on himself, untethered and free. Well, free except from fate apparently; Oedipus is responsible to destiny still. This time Oedipus accepts his responsibility to fate by saying “Well, let my destiny go where it will” before he plans to go back into the woods in exile. The personal freedom of knowledge and self-reliance is not pleasurable for Oedipus. In his case, ignorance really is bliss, but that distinguishes Oedipus as noble when he seeks truth that hurts him.

Oedipus poses a third variable to join the freedom/responsibility relationship, that being peace. Most would assume that freedom brings about a solitude and peace with oneself that we should strive for. Oedipus however, shows that freedom brings anguish. Responsibility is comfortable and freedom requires vulnerable effort.  Is truth and freedom worth the pain? According to Oedipus yes, for it is a noble thing to do and living without freedom in knowledge distinguishes one as ignorant and despicable.

1 comment:

  1. Aliisa,

    I love this sentence--its structure and message:

    Though he appears free in his ignorance, Oedipus is slave to the fate he cannot see.

    Nice entry!