Oedipus the King – a good read

Oedipus the King written by Sophocles was something that I enjoyed reading. I found myself wanting to pick the book up and read past the assigned pages. The reasons for this were the characters and the tone. The main character Oedipus had many layers to his personality which made him more intriguing. The humorous tone of this book was also something that kept me interested. This book also raised a few questions and caused me to reflect.

I found Oedipus’s character to be complicated. This is because he was a tragic hero who was neither totally good nor evil. At the beginning of the book, I did not like Oedipus because I found him to be conceited and have a bad temper. An example of these traits is when Tiresias calls Oedipus the murderer. At this point, Oedipus is very quick to lash out without thinking which makes him unlikeable. As the book progresses, we can see his determination to find out the truth and his loyalty to Thebes. This changed how I viewed Oedipus; I now admired these qualities. The ending to this story had me feeling sorry for Oedipus because of how he felt like a puppet to the Gods. At first, I was confused about why he decided to stab his eyes but then I realized he wanted to have control over his own life. I realize now that portraying Oedipus with both flaws and strengths made Oedipus more transparent. This is because it makes him more human and more relatable instead of a hero with no flaws. Now I wonder if in some way or another we are all similar to Oedipus’s character. Another thing that made me want to continue reading this book was the tone. 

 Although the plot of the play was tragic there was a comical and ironic tone which added to my enjoyment. There were many puns and ironic lines that conveyed this tone such as Oedipus’s line when talking about Laius “I will fight for him as if he were my father.” (p.173). This is ironic because little did, he know Laius was his father. One more line delivered by Oedipus that made me laugh was “I have a terrible fear that the blind seer can see” (p. 203). Passages such as these made the book more entertaining. Another character that is quite humorous is the Messenger. The Messenger delivers many important facts which are crucial to the story but with a comical tone. For example, when the Messenger learns why Oedipus was scared to go back to Corinth he says; “Don’t you know? You’ve really nothing to fear. Polybus was nothing to you, that is why, not in blood” (p. 218). This line is funny because Oedipus has feared going back to Corinth his whole life, but the messenger delivers this news like it is no big deal. Something to consider about the tone of this play is that it was originally performed on a stage with an audience so that is why humour might be a prominent part of the tone. Regardless I appreciated the comical characters and puns throughout the book.