The Human Condition In Oedipus The King

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Laverone 1 Erin Laverone Mr. Mathews AP English 12 17 October 2006 The Reflection of the Human Condition in Oedipus the King Sophocles’ Oedipus the King allows us to reflect on our condition as human beings; a condition in which we are powerless in the determination of our fate and yet desperately attempt to change it either by outsmarting or imitating the divine. Oedipus is a man who represents the human condition through his yearning for truth and his refusal to succumb to the edict of the gods. We are able to resonate with Oedipus because of his discontent with the human condition. As human beings, we unceasingly question and seek truth; truth about our identity, truth about our place in the world, and truth about the cosmos. As we…show more content…
If we do not profit from divine revelation, we try to run from whatever was revealed by taking matters into our own hands through some form of divine imitation. We find out that Oedipus decides to take this road. He flees Corinth thinking that he can outsmart the gods and prevent their revelation from coming true. And as I fled I reached that very spot where the great king… met his death… I began to see… a wagon… the one in the lead and the old man himself were about to thrust me off the road… with one blow of the staff in this right hand I knock him out of his high seat, roll him out of the wagon… I killed them all… (Sophocles 876-898) Oedipus is not satisfied with his fate and will not allow the gods to dictate it, so he attempts to change it. As Seth Benardete observes, “Oedipus represents the human attempt to replace the sacred – his failure to return to Corinth in his denial of oracles – by the purely human” (qtd. in Cropsey…show more content…
They attempt to play the role of the divine by creating instruments that will lengthen their life spans. Scientists devote years of their lives in search of scientific truths that will reveal to us “the fountain of youth” and cures for fatal diseases. Every year, new technologies are created in an attempt to thwart death and prolong life. In seeing this aspect of the human condition in Oedipus, Knox notes, “Death, it is true, he will not avoid, yet he has thought out ways of escape from desperate diseases” (qtd. in Bloom 7). Even though we may figure out how to prevent one cause of death, there will always be another problem, and thus we will never be able to conquer death. Furthermore, even though Oedipus attempts to outsmart the gods, he can’t; his fate is what it is, no matter what path he decides to take. Our fate is death. We unceasingly pursue ways in which we can stall death, but nothing we come up with will ever be bulletproof. Sometimes, in our inquisition, we actually bring about our fate sooner than we expected it instead of delaying it. Doctors have used the wrong blood types in blood transfusions and have had plastic surgeries go haywire. All of these were attempts to prolong lives, but they failed; a failure which lead to death, the universal fate of humanity. Yet, even though humans continually fail, they keep faith that perhaps someday their pursuits will yield some infinitesimal
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