The following sample essay on Moral Lesson Of Oedipus Rex discusses it in detail, offering basic facts and pros and cons associated with it. To read the essay’s introduction, body and conclusion, scroll down.
The Universal Lessons of Oedipus the King Oedipus the King is a dramatic tale of a great king brought down by “fate” and the destiny of the gods. It is a story of strife over events that were out of one’s control but mainly handled in a way that only caused further destruction and heartache.
There are many universal lessons to be learned by Oedipus and his tragic story; lessons that every man today could benefit from, such as the downfalls of arrogance and selfishness, the grave mistakes in being judgmental and sanctimonious, and the repercussions of being quick to act without sufficient knowledge. Now, I am here. I will begin the search again, I will reveal the truth, expose everything, let it all be seen” (160-163).
This line spoken by Oedipus toward the start of the play clearly demonstrates his tendencies toward arrogance and insolence. He boasts of his abilities above others previous and states how he will come to find the truth when they could not. He goes on to reveal that he is doing so mostly for selfish reasons. “Justice and vengeance are what I want. […] Family, friends—I won’t rid myself of this stain, this disease, for them—they’re far from here.
I’ll do it for myself, for me” (165, 167-169).
Oedipus allows his selfish ego to get in the way of him here. The people are in need of help and he claims to be the only one who can provide it. He takes matters into his own hands and decides that for his own glory he is going to discover the secrets of the past and lives before his arrival in Thebes. He then reveals that he is doing so mostly for his own benefit. I think he proves himself haughty in his claims to be able to uncover the truth and such actions and attitude prove to be met with unpleasant ends.
After Oedipus makes these bold claims that he and he alone can uncover the culprit he seeks, he compiles his mistakes by being smug and quick to judge. He proclaims his unquestionable innocence and quickly denounces whosoever is the guilty party. “I know nothing about the murder, I was alone, how could I have tracked the killer, without a clue, I came to Thebes after the crime was done. […] these words come from and innocent man. One of you knows who killed Laios (294-296, 298-299). After quickly announcing his own innocence, Oedipus goes on to condemn the guilty.
My power is absolute in Thebes, my rule reaches everywhere, my words will drive the guilty man, the man who knows, out of this city, away from Thebes, forever. [………………………………………………………………………………] Drive him from your homes. Let him have no home, nothing. No words, no food, shelter, warmth of hand, shared worship. Let him have nothing. Drive him out, let him die. He is our disease. […………………………………………………………………………………. ] let my hatred burn out his life, hatred, always. Make him an ember of suffering. Make all his happiness ashes (313-315, 324-327, and 335-338).
Oedipus publicly makes these statements, arrogantly exiling the culprit, all the while ignorantly condemning himself. Once he states his ability to be the only savior of Thebes and promises to weed out the “disease” of the city, Oedipus wraps himself too far up in his own boastful quest that he cannot even see when other are trying to turn him off his path of self destruction. Teiresias warns Oedipus that his pursuance of the past will only bring him sorrow but he ignores these warnings, forcing Teiresias to speak. “Stubborn old fool, you’d make a rock angry! Tell me what you know! Say it! ” (449-450).
Jocasta, his wife, even begs Oedipus to leave these pursuits once she learns the travesty of the truth and Oedipus ignores her as well. JOCASTA. Oedipus, you must stop. I beg you—stop! OEDIPUS. Nothing can stop me now. I must know everything. Everything! JOCASTA. I implore you, Oedipus. For your own good. OEDIPUS. Damn my own good! (1329-1334) Oedipus does exactly that. He damns his own good by being overtaken by his selfish arrogance, self-righteous judgment, and his quick action in ignorance. Oedipus turns out to be the murderer he seeks. He unknowingly is the “disease” he speaks of expelling from the city.
All of these events come together to reinforce age-old life lessons. One should never bask in his own abilities and be boastful of his capabilities, but rather be humble and hardworking towards any success. One should not be quick to judge others when they are ignorant of the facts. This also reflects the saying, “people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. ” Oedipus was unknowingly living in a giant glass house that inevitably came crashing down on him. He mocked the blind Teiresias, just to end up blind himself in the end. He slandered his own name by slandering that of a culprit he sought out.
He condemned his own life by condemning another. He didn’t heed the advice of others but instead pushed on his own selfish path to what unknowingly led to his demise. The lessons of Oedipus are truly universal. What one wishes to receive, one should give. People should act with compassion and understanding and be sure to have all the facts before making judgments. Selfishness will only lead to loneliness and despair. In the end, though Oedipus’ tale is more dramatic than most modern day situations, one could end up exactly the same as he if they do not heed these lessons.
Nothing, nothing is left of me now—no city with its high walls, no shining statues of the gods. I stripped all these things from myself—I, Oedipus, fallen lower than any man now, born nobler than the best. Born the king of Thebes! Cursed with my own curses, I commanded Thebes to drive out a killer. I banished the royal son of Laios, the man the gods revealed is stained with the awful stain. The secret stain that I myself revealed is my stain. And now, revealed at last, how could I ever look men in the eyes? Never. Never.