Oedipus the King Essay
Roberto Rodriguez Cacho Dr. Hulett English 151-34 21 April 2009 Awful End in the Kings Life Throughout the history of human kind there have been a lot of tragedies among the royal households. Sometimes the murder of a member of a royal family have actually resulted in war, like it took place on “June 28, 1914 when the Archduke Francis Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated”(Lebow) provoking tension among the European powers of that time, and prompting what in the future became World War I.
In other occasions the kings are the reason of a kingdom’s issues, as it takes place in Sophocles’s play Oedipus the King, where the only method of saving the kingdom of Thebes is by eliminating the judgment king, Oedipus. Some other times the catastrophe remains within the royal family, causing several deaths and almost vanishing the heritage of the household. This scenario is described in one of Shakespeare’s finest plays, Hamlet, where the king is assassinated and it induces the other characters in the play to revenge the king’s death triggering a significant tragedy.
These are some examples of the effects that a murder of a royal member of the family may bring, but if we analyze the reasons these tragedies occur we can find some typical patterns throughout history too. While evaluating the plays that take this subject as the main style of the story like in Hamlet and Oedipus the King, there are some options that could respond to the question, why the kings die in the story?.
The alternatives I discovered thinking about analyzing to address this concern are: since the discontent of the people in the kingdom, since of envy of those near to the king that are seeking power, and because of the hubris and extreme ambition kings have and are unable to manage. Sophocles composed Oedipus the King at a time where individuals of Athens were having a lot of problems. “The Athenians had actually simply lost a war in 431 B. C., versus Sparta and the city was plagued with a plague that wiped out a minimum of a quarter of the Athenian population, which they believed it was caused upon them by the gods”(Kirszner).
Therefore Sophocles was motivated to write a catastrophe that included a discontent kingdom as it was Thebes in Oedipus the King. The truth that the people of Thebes were unhappy has a major impact in the story that will lead to the awful life for the rulers of this kingdom. At the start of the story individuals of Thebes were threatened by the Sphinx, “a beast with a lady’s head, a lion’s body, and wings”(Sophocles) which killed every boys that might address a riddle.
Oedipus fixed the riddle and free Thebes from Sphinx reign of terror, providing him the throne and the hand of the widowed queen Jocasta. Once Oedipus was a king he wasn’t able to keep his kingdom in excellent shape so the population of Thebes seek for his help as it is specified in the very first act of the play where it says, “Our city, as you see yourself, is tossed excessive, and can no longer lift its head above the troughs of billows red with death”(Sophocles). This line explains the hard times Thebes was going through, and since Oedipus was devoted to his people he could not let this take place, and tried to help them.
While seeking for a factor for all the badness Thebes was going through, Oedipus learns he is the source of wicked and from there his life becomes in absolutely nothing else however disaster. So, in order to have an awful ending Sophocles required to mention a prior problem in the story that would lead the king to its unwanted fate. In this story he selected to set a discontent population that would prompt the king to help them and learn of the dreadful prediction when was produced him and his family.
Thus the truth that individuals of Thebes were discontent and suffering might be one of the reasons that lead Oedipus to his awful fate, due to the fact that if he as a king had actually been able to keep his kingdom in good shape he would have never discovered he eliminated his daddy and married his mom. The 2nd factor to analyze that could respond to, why the kings pass away in the story? Is the truth that there are a lot of individuals who covet those with power and there are some that not even murder would stop them from getting what they desire.
In the ruling system in which kingdom are established, envy is really typical amongst the royal member of the family since the hierarchy status is currently set and the king is picked without any criteria except that he is the next in line of the royal household. The method this system of government is set makes it unfair for the other members of the family and the population since they would never get a chance to improve their social status or hierarchy. Shakespeare in his play Hamlet makes a clear representation of the twisted feelings close members of the royal family might have towards the king.
In this play Shakespeare provides the Kingdom of Denmark, where the kings brother knowing that the only way he might end up being king is by killing his brother he killed him and takes over the throne. So, in this story the envy Claudius, the king’s brother, has towards the king develops the whole catastrophe that would make him kill his brother and then the king’s son, Hamlet, would take revenge on his daddy’s name and kill the murdered. This feeling Claudius has towards his bro is shown in the play in the 3rd act where he says, “Of those effects for which I did the murther: My crown, mine own aspiration, and my queen”(Shakespeare).
The jealousy and envy people have versus the royal members had actually existed because the kingdoms were first developed and I believe it was what doomed this federal government system. An example of how envy caused the death of a royal household in history could be when King Louis XVI and the Queen Marie Antoinette were killed by there own people in, because of the elegant life they were having in the expenses of their working individuals. The population of France at that time could not withstand any more to watch the comfy life their ruler was having while they were starving so they punished them with death.
This happened after Shakespeare had composed Hamlet and individuals already understood that the system of kingdoms wasn’t a fair ruling system but the ones with power would try anything possible prior to their privileges are gotten rid of from them. Envy is a really dangerous sensation that can make individuals do things impulsively without thinking them through. In Hamlet Shakespeare explains a circumstance where the sibling’s king is driven by his feelings and can killing somebody of his own family in order to get what he wanted, the power of the throne and the queen.
The third factor the kings might be condemn to pass away in these plays, is because the conceit and extreme aspiration they gain when they get to the throne and they are unable to control those feelings. In both plays, Oedipus the King and Hamlet, there are scenarios that show the conceit the kings had which led them to their tragic fates. In Oedipus the King, Oedipus is an enthusiastic and big-headed king who thinks he can rescue the people of Thebes, so he would not quit until he had all the responses he required to learn where all the evil was coming from.
These mindsets led him to learn about the prophecy the Oracle as soon as produced him and his family turning his arrogance into sorrow and forcing him to poke his eyes to stop seeing the tragedy his life had concerned. In Hamlet 2 kings pass away throughout the story, however the one that reveals the most qualities of being a big-headed person is Claudius due to the fact that he believes he can get away with the murder of his bro and that he would always have the situation under control.
This conceit makes him not eliminate Hamlet and simply believe he has freaked, letting Hamlet take revange on his dad’s name and eliminate him. The kings in these 2 plays, Oedipus the King and Hamlet, are condemn to pass away and I believe both authors did this since they were trying to show to the spectators that seeking for greatness and power shouldn’t be the major purpose in somebody’s life since it can also bring destruction and tragedy.