Is Oedipus guilty or innocent of the crime of killing his father and marrying his mother. Please Explain

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that it's really important to make sure that the discussion of Oedipus' predicament is done in the most sensitive of manners.  I am not sure if it is as simple as one would like to presume that he is completely "guilty" or "innocent."  Oedipus unknowingly kills his father, Laius, and marries a women that turns out to be his mother, Jocasta. Oedipus acts in a manner where he believes that he knows the truth, self- assured in that he has lived well and not engaged in any sinful behavior.  Yet, through fated revelation and testimony, it does become evident that Oedipus is guilty of terrible acts.  While this was not his intent, the redemptive element in his character and the drama is when he assumes the force of moral order and structure in a world where this might be absent.  In this, Oedipus accepts and understands his role in what happens.  In blinding himself, he loses physical sight, but gains a sense of insight that enables a full understanding of his own predicament and the sense of responsibility to help make right that which is wrong.  In this, Oedipus accepts his own guilt, and seeks to better himself and those who are cursed enough to be his descendants.


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