Oedipus And Humanity’s Flaw Essay, Research Paper
Oedipus and Humanity s Fatal Flaw
While the play Oedipus the Wreck was about a king whose reign was destroyed by his own deeds, the message contained within the play was much deeper, and aimed towards every man and woman. That message was that humanity s worst and most unconquerable enemy is their own misgivings.
One needs only look at Oedipus life to see how this is evident. Here s a man who has conquered incredible odds and solved the unsolvable riddle. Then, again to his fortune, the land he saves is without king, so they anoint him as king. But his good fortune doesn t last forever – in fact, these very same events lead to his downfall.
Upon a closer look, we can see that Oedipus had been trying to avoid a horrible prophesied fate. In fear of a prophecy, which stated he would kill his father and sleep with his mother, he ran from his hometown. After this, he had unknowingly killed his father (whom he thought was a stranger) and when he became king he fulfilled his prophecy by unknowingly marrying his mother. So in fact, by trying to avoid his fate, he had in fact fulfilled it.
One could argue that the gods, who had announced the prophecy, had trapped Oedipus and doomed him to his fate. This, however, undermines the fact that Oedipus himself fled and began the journey that led to the fulfillment of the prophecy. It was his own cowardice which made him flee. Instead of trying to take fate into his own hands, he instead tried to avoid it.
This was not his only flaw however; his own arrogance led him to condemn an innocent man of conspiracy, when that man in fact spoke the truth. It also led him to deny the truth until he could no longer, and this made the realization ever the more horrible. In the end, his own cowardice and arrogance destroyed him. But even after all had been said and done, had he purged himself of his flaws? Did he realize these events were of his own doing? Or did he take responsibility because it was his only option? He seems to be much more reluctant to accept his fate than in the beginning, when he says “For with the god’s help our good fortune–or our ruin–will be made certain.”
Oedipus was not the only one who had fatal flaws. In fact, all the other characters flaws are hinted at throughout the play. Jacosta, knowing the original prophecy, may have known Oedipus fate all along, but not said so out of love and fear. After all, if she told the public Oedipus may have killed Laius, what then? Even when Oedipus is close to discovering his true origins, she tries to persuade him just to forget about it, and finally in anger says “Oh ill-fated man, may you never know who you are!” Also, Jacosta s brother may have used the truth to his advantage in gaining the throne. Laius may have been killed because of his own arrogance and cruelty to his own son. Is anyone without blame?
The answer may very well be no, and I think this is the true message of Oedipus the Wreck. The message is that everyone has flaws, and if not dealt with, these flaws could be your own downfall. Laius, Jacosta and Oedipus all could have changed fate, but they instead played the roles made for them. By doing so they let their own flaws become their undoing. Their greatest enemy was not the gods, nor man or nature, but themselves. And this is the tragedy of the human race.