Moral Ambiguity In Oedipus Essay

637 Words3 Pages

Niya Kebreab King Oedipus: Moral Ambiguity In the play King Oedipus, Sophocles depicts Oedipus’ inevitable downfall, which represents man’s struggle between free will and fate. In an attempt to use the audience’s knowledge to his advantage, Sophocles opens the play seventeen years after Oedipus murders his father, Laius and marries his mother, Jocasta. The sequence in which the story unravels reveals the strong psychological focus towards Oedipus’ character. In search of his identity, Oedipus’ enigmatic quality and moral ambiguity compels readers to question whether his ignorance renders him morally blameless. The vagueness about Oedipus’ intellectual state can be interpreted as unconscious knowledge, which may make him morally culpable. Guilty …show more content…

His lack of knowledge generates a moral ambiguity with respect to his actions. If ignorance serves as a moral excuse, Oedipus may be free of blame. However, ignorance towards his life only renders him morally blameless in regards to his incestuous act, not Laius’ murder. Despite his fate, it is Oedipus’ hubris which causes him to murder the men at the place where three roads meet. Oedipus confesses, stating “it was the driver that trust me aside and him I struck, for I was angry. The old man saw it, leaning form the carriage, waited until I passed, then, seizing the weapon” (48). The nature of Oedipus’ knowledge is the vaguest element in the play. This vagueness is then naturally interpreted as ignorance, which would then justify his actions while creating a sense of pity towards Oedipus’ life. However, the horrific nature of his actions create some responsibility. Upon discovering his crimes, Oedipus states, “Apollo, friends, Apollo has laid this agony upon me; not by his hand; I did it. What should I do with eyes where all is ugliness?” (62). His powerful emotional reaction to this revelation again brings up the question of his moral

More about Moral Ambiguity In Oedipus Essay

Open Document