Oedipus And Fences

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 10th grade April 2001

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Oedipus Rex, by Sophocles, and Fences, by August Wilson, are two great tragedies by two outstanding playwrights. The two stories seem intertwined by the great characters that they center around. Although the stories of Oedipus and Troy are separated by centuries, the characters are almost identical. Different backgrounds, different cultures, and different adversaries do not affect the manner and behavior of the main characters. If nothing else, the pride in each of the characters make the two so much more alike and inseparable, even into death. I will begin by examining pride many centuries ago in a land called Thebes.

Sophocles' Oedipus Rex revolves around the story of Oedipus, who now is King of Thebes, searching for the murderer of the past king. The tragedy is not so much that Oedipus is the murderer and committing incest with his mother. After all, he was fated to do so, and Oedipus commits these crimes unknowingly.

The real tragedy of Oedipus is his trying to defy his destiny and compounding the troubles with his pride. Oedipus has the chance to stop the search for the murderer before the investigation starts. Even blind Teiresias, who tells Oedipus that he is the guilty party, wants Oedipus to stop although Teiresias can see the outcome and knows Oedipus' destiny. It is Oedipus' pride that, in telling the members of his court that he will search for the murderer, leads him down the ever narrowing path to the truth and his pride that will not allow him to stop the search.

Even though common sense would dictate that a sane man stop the search after a few of the facts that Oedipus is given, Oedipus drives forward like the man of action that we, the audience, expect of a king and leader. In...