On the surface, Oedipus Rex seems to be the story of a man who is caught in the awful trap of fate. Although this is true, Sophocles uses this story as a vessel for the discussion of the themes of the nature of humans and reality. One thing that is displayed by the journey of Oedipus is that there are many elements of fate that one can not run from. Sophocles also discusses how to determine the nature and worth of a person. Through the vessel of this narrative, everyone is challenged to look at these facets of humanity.
Of these questions about humanity, the question of fate is the one that is most readily visible. According to Sophocles, when Oedipus goes to Delphi, he is told that he will kill his father and marry his mother. Oedipus’s first reaction, similar to one that many people would have, is to remove himself from a ...view middle of the document...
These situations will often limit each person’s opportunities, but he should still make the most of whatever he can. Only by fully exploiting the situation he are given can a person reach his full potential.
In determining if a person has reached his full potential, there must be a way to judge the worth of a person. Sophocles seems to have two different views on this subject. Oedipus, the hero, does many bad things, and yet is still viewed as a good person. The other view is that, although many of Oedipus’s crimes were accidental, the gods still made him pay for them. These two different views on how to judge the worth of a person must be analyzed and combined to reach a conclusion.
The idea of Oedipus, the hero, doing bad things may seem unusual at first. In doing this, Oedipus is shown as a real human. Sophocles is also using Oedipus to portray the opinion that it is our intent not the result that must often be judged. This deontological perspective allows Oedipus to remain a good person, even after he kills his father and marries his mother, because he always acts with the purest of intents.
In addition to deontology, Sophocles also seems to subscribe to a teleological perspective. The problems that eventually bring Oedipus's fall from power are caused by the gods. The gods seem to believe that ignorance is not an excuse, and even if Oedipus does not realize what he is doing, he still needed to pay for his mistakes.
The goal of Sophocles, when writing Oedipus Rex, is to probe the nature of humanity and discuss how one is to act. The first thing that he shows is that there are some things that are out of our control and that we need to accept them. He also shows that we need to look at both the intention and the ultimate consequence of actions. The synthesis of these positions is that we need to temper our actions and goals to conform with our capability and to act in a way that uses correct means and produces correct ends, as well as the ultimate ends.