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Towards the end of the play, Oedipus faces acute sufferings, uttering such words “what life”...”If only I had died” can u account for the basic nature of his sufferings? Give me your own estimation of king’s sufferings? “Tis not in mortals to avert their doom!” Discuss with reference to Sophocles? “I do not know how I can answer you You were better dead than alive and blind” Oedipus Rex is one of the most complex and fascinating plays that were ever written. It has various level of meaning which can never be exhausted. In fact, there is something mysterious about this play which is really inexplicable. Even from the purely technical point of view, Oedipus Rex is a marvel. Its plot-structure remains unrivalled. Its characterization as well as pattering of character is superb. It admirably maintains suspense in spite of the fact that its plot is well-known. In terms of tragic irony, no dramatist can ever hope to rival Sophocles. Thus from every point of view, Oedipus Rex is a rich and complex play. Oedipus Rex is one of the remarkable tragedy ever produced and very aptly is considered and taken up as a model tragedy, not only by Aristotle but many of the others. This tragedy has showered upon Sophocles, a kind of popularity, which is immortal. The whole plot of the tragedy revolves around a mighty, towering character, Oedipus Rex, ever produced in Literature. As a set tradition and conviction of tragedy, this tragic hero commits “hamartia”, the error of judgment or miscalculation on the part of the tragic character. The accepted critical viewpoint now a day is that Aristotle does not mean Hamartia in the sense of some mortal fault which deserves punishment. It is highly probable that Aristotle uses the word only in the sense of “an offence committed in ignorance of some of material fact and therefore free from wickedness and vice.” There was a prophecy for the king Liaus, the father of Oedipus, that his son would kill him and marry his wife. To avoid this, the king orders his servant to take the baby to kill him but the servant, out of pity, does not kill the lad and leaves him on the mountains. Later, he is found by a shepherd, who takes him to the king of the neighbouring country, Corinth, who brings the baby up by naming him Oedipus Rex. At a stage, Oedipus comes to know about that he is not the real son of the king, therefore he also approaches Delphi and same prophecy is given to him. He also, like his father, tries to avoid his doom by taking the way to unknown country, but on the way, he encounters with a group of guards with a king, his real father, and in an impulsive action, he kills the guards and the old king. Afterwards, he enters the city of Thebes and also proves himself a savior of the city by killing sphinx and as a reward, is chosen as a king and marries the widow queen, his real mother. But when he come to know the bitter truth about his identity, he is miserable, he tried his level best to avoid it, he as a man cannot avert his doom but he in the end, gives himself the punishment of self-blinding by uttering these words,
What life, if only I had died This weight of monstrous doom Could not have dragged me and my darlings down

These words show the most anguished and tormenting feelings on the part of the Oedipus Rex. He was a prudent person, brave and he did try to change the prophecy, but his planning remained just a play game, he remained as a puppet, who, was being played by the God and his fate. He punishes himself for the sins he committed, but the readers feel sympathy for the king, he didn’t deserve such punishment for the sin, which he did it in ignorance, despite of his best effort to avoid it, but all in vain.

2 The qualities of Oedipus’s character – both good and bad- do exert an influence on Oedipus’s tragedy, though none of them could have either caused it or averted it. Among them are his staunch loyalty to the city, and his strong sense of the duties of kingship. Oedipus love of his subjects is manifest in his speech;
And while you suffer, none suffer more than i You have your several griefs, each for himself; But my heart bears the weight of my own, and yours And all my people’s sorrow.

It is his character which makes him restless in his research for truth. It is his honesty which makes him proceed with the investigation. It is his determination to proclaim which are very straightforward and thorough, not knowing that the denunciation is for Oedipus himself.
He is forbidden Shelter, intercourse with any man Expelled from every house, unclean, accursed, In accordance with the word of Pythian oracle.

It his self-loathing after hearing the truth which takes him to his self-blinding after seeing Jocasta death, saying;
If I has eyes, I do not know how I could bear the sight Of my father, when I came to the house of Death Or my mother for I had sinned against them both So vilely that I could not make any peace By strangling my own life

It’s his courage to accept his mistakes and blunders in his life when Chorus sympathizes with him;
He brought my sick, sick fate upon me But the blinding hands was my own

it’s his true suffering which is showing in this mention text when choragus says it would be better if had died.
No_for the love of God, conceal me Somewhere from Thebes; or kill me; or hurl me Into the sea, away from men’s eye forever

The identification of Oedipus’s hamartia differs from reader to reader and critic to critic. Some of the views may be briefly mentioned here. Oedipus, they point out, is proud and overconfidence; he harbours unjustified suspicion against Teiresias and Creon; in one place he goes so far as to express some uncertainty about the truth of oracles. It is hardly likely that even a combination of all these would be equal to what Aristotle considered to be a serious hamartia, and it would not be very relevant to the point at issue even if he did, for Oedipus has committed incest and parricide years before the action of the play began, and before he exhibited any of the failings mentioned above. It would hardly be logical to say that gods punished Oedipus for a crime which he was to commit many days later. Another view is that the present failings of Oedipus may be taken to mean that he was always like that, and that the gods punish him because his character basically is unsound. However, we get no indication of this in the play. No character justifies Oedipus’ suffering, nor does he himself repeat. The crucial point is whether Sophocles wants us to think that Oedipus has a basically mention unsound character. One way of deciding this question is to examine what other characters in the play say about Oedipus. The only result that we can arrive at in this way is that Sophocles intends us to consider Oedipus as an essentially good man. In the opening scene of the pray the Priest of Zeus refers to him as the greatest ad noblest of men, and the divinely inspired savior who saved Thebes from being destroyed by the sphinx. The chorus also considers Oedipus to be virtuous and noble. They refuse to believe in Teiresias’ accusations of him. When the catastrophe befalls Oedipus, not a single character in the play justifies it as a doom which has deservedly overtaken Oedipus.

3 Oedipus is also held guilty in another way- it is said that he fails to take the logical steps or precautions which would have saved him from committing the crimes. “Could not Oedipus… have escaped his doom if he had been more careful? Knowing that he was in danger of committing parricide and incest, would not a really prudent man have avoided quarrelling, even in self-defense, with men older than him” But we are not entitled to blame Oedipus either for carelessness failing to compile a hand list or for lack of self-control in failing to obey its injunctions. Even if we think of Oedipus as a person in real life rather than a character in a play, it would be wrong to say that there was any way in which he could have avoided the fulfillment of oracle’s prediction. If we link this to the fact that the doom that overtook him was inescapable, it would appear that Oedipus was no better than a puppet in the hands of fortune. This would make the play a tragedy of destiny. Yet there is no convincing reason to suppose that Sophocles presents the story Oedipus as a tragedy of destiny. Even Freud has become a victim to this mistaken view. The Greeks did not think of determination and free will as clear-cut and exclusive alternatives. It is wrong to think that because the gods know in advance what certain human actions are going to be, that these actions themselves become predetermined. Compare the meaning of the sayings of Thales inscribed above the temple of Apollo of Delphi gothic sauton: “Know thyself” –Mean “know that you are not a god, that you have human limitations.” Various meanings have been discovered by critics to lie below the surface of the play. This play shows us that one cannot avoid one’s fate, and that efforts to evade it would achieve only the reverse of what one desires. Man is essentially ignorant, and one who is proud of his intelligence would only turn out to be more ignorant than others. In the end it would be apt to conclude that Oedipus Rex, by Sophocles is a remarkable tragedy from all aspects. The through study of the play reveals how crafty and skillfully knitted plot it has. A galaxy of the critics is of the view that this play “Oedipus Rex” is essentially a tragedy of fate. Whereas many of the critics are of the view that Oedipus was the agent of free will. The identification of Hamartia has always been a most favourite issue for the critics in Oedipus Rex. But the careful and critical study of the play unfolds that Oedipus was neither the agent of free will nor he was over powered by the fate entirely. He was partially overcome by the fate and partially his own actions and reactions caused his doom and destruction. That why a reader feels sympathy for him for his sufferings in the end.

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