1. What, specifically, are the flaws in thinking of key characters of Oedipus Rex as they have chosen to avoid the oracle's predictions?
2. Explain why these choices for action have been bad/good ideas? And explain what ideas you have about better choices these characters could have made.
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The characters of Oedipus Rex try to trick fate after hearing predictions of the future:
- When they hear the prediction that their son will murder his father, King Laius and Jocasta have a shepherd take their baby out into the wilderness to kill the boy rather than taking the deed upon themselves.
- Because they have not killed the baby themselves, they do not know for certain what becomes of him and, thus, allow Fate to play out its role since the shepherd, instead of killing him, gives the boy to another shepherd who, in turn, takes the baby to King Polybus and his wife Merope, who raise him as their own son.
- But, because Jocasta does not know that her baby has lived, she tells Oedipus that "marauders" killed Laius and "it was my child that died first" (l.811) and inadvertently misleads him in his deductions.
- As a youth Oedipus believed himself to be the son of Polybus and Merope, until a drunken man cried out that Oedipus is not their son. When he inquires about his parentage, Polybus and Merope "stormed/Calling it all the slanderous rant of a fool" (ll. 740-741); relieved, Oedipus, nonetheless, decides to go to the shrine at Delphi and consult Apollo. "The god dismissed my question without reply" and speaks of "wretchedness," telling Oedipus that he will "lie with my own mother" and have children from whom "all men would turn their eyes;/And that I should be my father's murderer." (ll.750-751) Shortly afterwards, Oedipus is accosted by a herald and a groom leading horses that pull a chariot, who forces Oedipus off the road. As the charioteer nears him, Oedipus strikes him in anger. An older man then strikes Oedipus, who, in turn, knocks the man onto the ground, killing him. Out of rage, he kills all the men.
- Oedipus himself says later that he "Pronounced the malediction upon myself" (l.748) Having heard what the god has predicted, Oedipus should have been more cautious in his actions, and restrained himself from killing a stranger, whose name he did not know. Certainly, he should have been wary of the situation in Thebes after solving the riddle and being made the king and offered the queen for his wife. For, he has been warned by Apollo about becoming the murderer of his father and marrying his mother.
- The shepherd
- The shepherd does not have the heart to kill the baby of the king and his wife, but in giving the boy to a shepherd, he takes a chance in defying fate.
- Perhaps, he should have told the other shepherd of the curse upon the boy so that the shepherd would not give the baby to anyone of rank. For, if the boy grew up a a shepherd himself, he would not likely fulfill the curse upon him.
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