English the Greek society. Such practices were perceived







English A: Literature


Standard Level

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Donhou Fotso Sosthene

Gpk 136













Reflective statement

Work studied: Oedipus the King by Sophocles

about 425 years BC, and fussily noted for the distinctive application of some
of its humanistic themes nowadays, Sophocles’ play Oedipus the King was the substance of our interactive oral. Before
this activity, I believed Greek mythologies as were inventions of modern
literature. However, throughout the interactive oral, I came to understand the
power these believes held in Greek communities during Sophocles’ time.
Individuals within the Theban community were polytheists; they believed in the
existence of supernatural and prodigious beings having the authority to define
each and everyone’s fate. Some of those included Athena, Artemis, Zeus…etc. In
addition, they also believed in oracles and prophecies, being revealed because
of phenomenal interactions between the gods and men. An example is portrayed
within the play, when Tiresias prophesizes about Oedipus’ awful fate. The
degree of fear this produces on the chorus buttresses the idea that these
statements truly came from the gods. As such, I came to understand the
prominence of faith and fate within the Theban community.

throughout this interactive oral, I came to appreciate miscellany of
perspectives from my classmates, concerning the perception of immoral endeavors
such as incest within the Greek society. Such practices were perceived as
disgraceful, and individuals committing them could be regarded as outsiders. My
mates brought in the aspect of Oedipus’ forecast about his daughters’ future,
when he proclaimed no man will desire to marry them. In addition, they
amplified this concept by using Oedipus himself. Knowing the moral and ethical
implications of such actions within his community, he prefers gouging his eyes
so as to never see light once more. By highlighting these events, I further
understood how prominent it was for Theban citizens to perpetuate their
cultural understanding of life to subsequent generations by following ethical

continuing the interactive oral by depicting binding factors behind Oedipus’
fate also widened my horizons on how certain flaws of character were punishable
by the gods within the play’s historical context. The Thebans perceived
political leaders as exemplary individuals, having the desired skills to
effectively interact with the gods. Nonetheless, they also demonstrated some
reticence concerning excessive pride, and dangerous over confidence. They
believed these were punishable by the gods, thereby justifying the nature of
Oedipus’ misfortune. The Greek communities emphasized a lot on religious
devotion, and this served as an important instrument for the author to develop
the play’s major themes.







“It was Apollo friends, Apollo that brought this
bitterness, my sorrows to completion. But the hand that struck was none but my
own. Why should I see, whose vision shoed nothing sweet to see?” (Oedipus the
King, lines 1329-1335). Reading these statements for the first time gave me
the impression that the Sun god Apollo was the source of Oedipus’ misfortune. However,
paying delicate attention to the second phrase brought me to understand that to
a certain degree, Oedipus feels guilty of his situation. As such, I started
pondering on who holds the blame for Oedipus’ misfortune, the gods or him
himself? As a means to provide this question with plausible answers, I resolved
to keenly go through the play once more wherein I noticed some degrees of
contrast concerning Oedipus’s misfortune. On the one hand, Oedipus demonstrates
haughtiness of character, excessive pride and exaggerated self-confidence. All
these traits were believed to be severely punishable by the gods, thereby
making Oedipus a potential causation of his misfortune. On the other hand, the
author makes allusion of Oedipus’ biological origins wherein numerous
flashbacks are being employed to spark up readers’ awareness of Oedipus’
predestined fate. Following these alternatives, it became difficult to decipher
which factor effectively correlates with Oedipus’ misfortune. Consequently, I
was brought to investigate on the following topic: To what extent is Oedipus
the architect of his misfortune?

the play, Oedipus plans, designs and reviews the construction of a better
future for his people. The binding force behind his major endeavors is his
yearning to save Theban citizens from the prevailing plague by expulsing the
land’s religious population. This is evidenced when he says; “Indeed I’m willing to give all that you may
need; I would be very hard should I not pity suppliants like these” (Oedipus the king, lines 10-12). Indeed,
this comforting statement can be regarded as the fuel of Oedipus’ subsequent
actions within the play. Oedipus goes forward by differentiating himself in the
way he wants his people feel satisfied; he prefers Creon’s message from the
Delphic oracle to be publicly delivered in the suppliants’ presence. This
democratic leadership style ignites Oedipus’ yearning to save his people. By
all means, Oedipus attempts to get ample information concerning Laius’
murderer. He wants the plague to be expiated to the extent of even cursing
himself. Here he says; “If with my
knowledge he lives at my hearth, I pray that I myself may feel my curse” (Oedipus the King lines 270-271). This
statement is a rigorous proof of cleverness which can be likened to the worth
Oedipus gives to his peoples’ wellbeing. He is ruled by love, one which makes
him ready to face inadequacies and therefore excavate every truth relating to
Laius’s death. Consequently, by blending these character traits, it would be
hard to qualify Oedipus as the architect of his misfortune. He is a clever
leader aiming for a brighter future in Thebes.

the above assertion may be true, a careful analysis of events going on within
the play might provide rational justifications about Oedipus being the
self-designer of his misfortune. At many intervals, Oedipus is obstinate about
reality; he prefers blaming others and constructs obscure conjectures on events
happening in his life. His ardent desire to transform his fate into a better
one can be perceived as the stumbling block leading to his misfortune. Upon
escaping from Corinth, Oedipus believes he is acting virtuously; escaping for
him is a primary means to safe Polybus’ life, and prevents Merope from
committing incest. Oedipus suffers from a major character flaw which is the
lack of self-control, which throughout his escape journey induces him to kill
his biological father Laius on the crossroads and thus, unwittingly fulfills
the prophecy of killing his father. Added to this, Oedipus is affectionate by
means of words, but in reality, he is a self-centered individual. This is
observed when he says to the priest “For
when I drive pollution from the land, I will not serve a distant friend’s
advantage but act in my own interest (Oedipus
the King, lines 137-139).” He
seeks for Laius’s murderer so as to protect his throne and wealth. Blended to
this, his judgmental character traits make him fast in speaking, yet slow in
grasping. How could he pronounce such imprecations on an unknown individual
without having strong backgrounds of the issue? Certainly it is because he did
not imagine himself as the potential murderer. His persistence to tyrannically
dig-up an unknown truth result in him loosing track with reality, and thus
making him the self-constructor and designer of his misfortune. On this light
one can clinch by saying Oedipus is the architect of his misfortune.

a different perspective, instead of branding Oedipus as architect of his
misfortune, it can also be productive in questioning about the binding forces
behind his endeavors; are they predestined, or are they the products of
self-wisdom? Why him in particular? Why should nature punish him so severely?
Within the play, many instances bring the thought that Oedipus’s life has been
predestined. A typical example is Tiresias’s statement: “It is not fate that I should be your ruin, Apollo is enough; it is his
care to work this out” (Oedipus the
King, lines 376-378). This statement brings into question the influence of
supernatural forces within Oedipus’ life. Enquiring more on this, it was found
that, Oedipus’s fate stems from an earlier curse lay upon his father Laius.
Indeed, during his youth, Laius was the guest of Pelops, the king of Elis, and
he became the tutor of Chryssipus, the king’s youngest son in chariot racing.
Laius seduced or abducted and raped Chryssipus, who later killed himself in
shame. This murder cast a doom over Laius and all his descendants. When Oedipus
is born, the king consults an oracle, as to know his fortune. To his horror,
the oracle reveals that Laius is doomed to perish by the hands of his son
(Sigmapublications.com). This results in him binding the child’s feet together
with a pin, and ordering Jocasta to kill it. Jocasta later orders a shepherd,
which later gives the child to another shepherd because of pity. The former
then gives it to the childless Polybus, king of Corinth who adopts it. The poor
Oedipus grows, and when he reaches the state of maturity, circumstances
independent of his proper will (supernatural forces) lead him in Thebes to
fulfill the second part of the prophecy (that is, marrying his mother).
Consequently, considering Oedipus as architect of his misfortune would be a
mere oversimplification of the powerful circumstances threatening his life. He
is a mere victim of fate, for, every events seem to be perfectly planned by the
gods, which is confirmed by Tiresias statement “It is not fate that I should be your ruin, Apollo is enough; it is his
care to work this out” (Oedipus the
King, lines 376-378). As such, Oedipus cannot be considered architect of
his misfortune.

“If a man walks with haughtiness of hand or
word and gives no heed to justice and the shrines of the gods—may an evil doom
smite him for his ill-starred pride of heart?” (Oedipus the King, lines 1009-1013). This statement made by the
chorus highlights a fundamental aspect which is the Greek concept of Hubris. Hubris can be perceived as a
demonstration of exaggerated self-confidence, or demonstration of excessive
pride. This can be perceived as the leitmotiv of Oedipus’s downfall. His desire
to go beyond expectations result in him challenging the gods who he claims to
be religiously devoted to. This is exemplified when he says “Call the assembly and let it meet upon the
understanding that I’ll do everything. God will decide whether we prosper or
remain in sorrow” (Oedipus the King Lines
173-176). Thebans are lamenting because of ravages caused by the plague. They come
before Oedipus for him to plead before the gods on their favor. However, the
response received is more humanly than godly. Oedipus considers himself a God,
and pushes forward by challenging them “God
will decide whether we prosper or remain in sorrow”. Portraying such
haughty traits within his religiously devoted community was known to be
severely sanctioned by the gods. Despite the curses withholding his life,
Oedipus prompts the gods to give him additional punishments, thereby making himself
architect of his misfortune.

play Oedipus the King demonstrates a
lot of complexity in analytical terms. The conflict between fate and personal
will makes it difficult to answer the above research question by favoring a
factor at the expense of the other. Throughout the play, it can be observed
that the sequence of events occurring in Oedipus’s life seem to have been
carefully patterned by gods. Likewise, it is also observed that, Oedipus
contributes to his misfortune to a heightened extend. Nonetheless, Oedipus is
more of a victim of fate than a designer of his misfortune, thereby making it
unfair to brand him architect of his misfortune.











the King, Sophocles, translated by David Grene. Retrieved on Saturday, January
20, 2018, from; http://abs.kafkas.edu.tr/upload/225/Oedipus_the_King_Full_Text.pdf

Greek Mythology and folktales from Greece. Retrieved on Saturday, January 20,
2018, from: https://sigmapublications.com/txt_mth_en_en8.html