Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Oedipus Rex

Sophocles' Oedipus Rex is an exemplary story with which to argue that there is truly no set reality. Each and every one of the Thebians' realities are constructed differently than the next's. For example, when Jocasta first seems to realize that Oedipus is her son, she relents in his search to find the truth, because in her reality, ignorance is better than letting Oedipus know the truth. Oedipus' reality, on the other hand, is a total flip; it is of utmost importance to find the truth regardless of how much destruction it can bring. Jocasta and Oedipus, however, are not the only Thebians who have warring realities either. Even the chorus seems to have a reality that believes there is a curse on the town, but also believes that Oedipus goes too far in reaching his own personal reality. Due to this fragmentation between realities, Oedipus Rex demonstrates the idea that there is not true reality. Everything in life is seen differently through the eyes of countless others but the decisions we make and the actions we take are so different than the next person's.

In addition to serving a purpose to argue the impossibility of having a universal reality, Oedipus Rex does a wonderful job of depicting how a reality is constructed. As stated above, everyone has different views on the same events that happen in life. This disparity in views is often caused by differences in experiences or how we construct our realities. For example, Oedipus is able to pursue the truth of his birth and fate because of his experiences: being questioned by the drunk man, visiting the Oracle, killing unknown men at the junction of three highways and many other things that set him apart from, say, Jocasta. On the opposing side, Jocasta has given birth to a few boys, driven a spike through one of said boys' heels, and left him to die because of a fate so brutal and malevolent that death was a more fortunate option. For Oedipus, knowing the truth holds promise in putting the puzzle pieces of his life together, so to speak. For Jocasta, her construction of reality and her experiences reject the idea of bridging her past because it is just too painful. No mother is usually ever able to abandon their child, regardless of the circumstances. However, it is not only Jocasta and Oedipus who have opposing constructions of reality. Every single person in Thebes had different experiences and therefore had different realities.

In my opinion, because Oedipus Rex addresses both questions based in reality, it is a paramount example of the convoluted nature of reality. But it also begs the question. If they weren't able to have a universal reality, are we as modern humans able to? Or has reality and its fundamental aspects remained constant until today?

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