The Play “Oedipus Rex” Essay

August 17, 2021 by Essay Writer


The play starts at the doors of the king’s palace with some beggars at the doorsteps and the priest gathering branches of olives for the wreath. Oedipus, who is the king of the place, asks them why they are grieving and praying all the time. People who had come to the palace wanted to have a word with the king concerning the things that were happening in the palace (Foster 35). The king, on the other hand, promises them that he will help them in whatever they want.

In addition, citizens of this land had found themselves in a number of calamities; the reasons why the land had plunged into plagues was as a result of Oedipus having killed his father and ended up marrying his mother. This play is taken as an indication of human blindness; this is shown by Oedipus’ not taking into consideration the fact that what he has done could be the reason as to why there is a plague in the land.

Plot of the play

The plot of the play revolves around Oedipus during his young age; when he was young, he is shown to have raped a girl who then committed suicide due to the shame. In this case, he is shown to have attracted a curse since, at a young age, he was blinded to the sacred laws of hospitality. King Louis and Queen of Thebes decide to kill the infant Oedipus, but the person sent to kill hesitates to do so. Other than killing him, the servant sent takes him to the mountain to die out of exposure (Brown 254).

Instead of dying out of exposure, he is rescued by a shepherd who takes him to Corinth, and he is raised as a childless king. Having knowledge of the fact that he is not the biological son of Polypus, he attempts to get full information about his biological father. The prophet does not consider telling him that he is destined to be married to his mother and kill his father with his hands.

Analysis of the play and the life of Oedipus

The intended future of Oedipus comes to be when he passes through the streets of Thebes, after which he meets with his biological father, and they argue on who should have the right of way. After the argument, a fight ensues, and Oedipus fights his father and throws him down out of his horse; he succumbs to his injuries, and then the oracle’s prophecy becomes a reality.

The other indicators of the blindness are that he is regarded as the best ruler of the land and he is committed to marrying the queen of Thebes after the death of the king. People are blinded from seeing that the prophecies of the oracles will surely come to be and from the fact that it could be the source of the plagues that had befallen Thebes.

In another scene of the play, the proclaimed king of the land decides to search for the murderer of the king. He is warned by the blinded priest that he should abandon the search, but he insists on carrying it out. He is committed to ensuring that the murderer is brought to book. At this scene, he is blinded to realizing that he is the one who committed the murder (Brown 254). He then asserts that the priest is one of the accomplices who could have colluded to kill the king. He then orders for the elimination of the priest and ensures that he continues to fight to know who killed the king.

He decides to dig deeper into the matter and asks the Queen how Laius looked like. Then he recalls the man he had killed, and he begins to realize the fact he is the one who really committed the murder and not anybody else (Foster 35). He decides to send for the eye-witness of the murder, who was a shepherd in the fields. At Corinth, at a banquet, Oedipus is confirmed that he was not the real son to Louis; he then proceeds to the prophet, who confirms that Oedipus killed his father and gave birth to children with his own mother. To clear himself from the fact that he killed his own father, he confirms by claiming that the witnesses had reported he was killed by a group of robbers.

Another indicator of human blindness is the fact the Queen of Corinth did not have the idea that the child she was given to adopting by a shepherd is the one the kingdom attempted to dispose of under the orders of the king of Thebes.

After it is reported that his father had died, he requests to have a talk with the shepherd, who is later allowed to leave without a word; however, he secretly pressures him to answer him, or he will decide to execute him. A servant sees all that happens in the palace; he leaves the palace and goes outside in shock. After Oedipus leaves the servant, he goes into the palace and hangs herself out of shock. Also, in this case, Oedipus is blinded to the fact that he is the one causing all the harm to the palace. All the misfortunes and calamities in the land are as a result of his being blinded to traditions and omens brought about by his actions, which are against the general guidelines of human nature (Foster 35).

The affectivity of the play

In addition, the whole community is displayed as a group of blind people who don’t see the things that Oedipus is doing to his fellow-countrymen; the things he is attempting that are contrary to the directions of the codes of conduct. All the individuals in the country do not notice that the calamities and the plagues in the land started when Oedipus became a ruler in the land. All the bad things that followed him, such as the time his parents, who were rulers of Thebes, decided to throw him away after he was born; it could have been an indicator that he was a cursed individual. The assertions by the prophet should have been taken seriously and an investigative team, which is independent of the influence of the king, launched.

As the play comes to an end, Oedipus realizes that he is the cause of all calamities in the palace, and as he comes back requesting a sword to kill himself, he finds that his servant Jocasta had already committed suicide and was hanging from the ceiling. He then pokes his eyes using the gold pins from the dress of Jocasta. He walks out of the palace, physically blind. The scene is indicative of the fact that all this time, he had been blind at heart and in mind, and his situation was commensurate to, if not worse than, physical blindness.


In conclusion, the whole play has scenes and incidents that can be applied in life situations where such blindness is evident. It also shows other causes of blindness, such as those induced by fear; the prophets feared telling the truth to Oedipus and, as a result, brought trouble to the whole kingdom.

Works Cited

Brown, Frederick. An impersonation of angels: A biography of Jean Cocteau. New York: Viking Press, 1968. Print.

Foster, Thomas C. How to read literature like a professor. New York, NY: HarperCollins, 2003. Print.

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