Oedipus the King Oedipus the King is a great play whose qualities of inscrutability and of pervasive ironically quickly come to complicate any critical discussion (). Sophocles' play Oedipus the King fits into a tragedy because it recounts the events in the life of Oedipus Rex, arouses pity and fear in the audience, and ends in an unhappy catastrophe (Harmon). Oedipus' life began in Thebes as the son of Laius and Jocasta. Apollo had placed a curse on Oedipus. The cursed said that Oedipus would kill his father and marry his mother.

Since Laius and Jocasta were afraid of the curse, they sent Oedipus away into the woods with a shepherd to be left to die. The shepherd should not bare to leave an infant in the woods to die, so he gave the infant to another man who took him to Polybus and Merope, king and queen of Athens, since they were not able to have kids. Oedipus grew up and learned that he was cursed. He left Athens believing that Polybus and Merope were his parents. He thought that if he moved away the curse would not come true. Oedipus left Athens and during his travels he ended up killing Laius and became the king of Thebes and married after answering the riddle.

After Oedipus became King his kingdom was hit by a plague and the only way to stop the plague was to avenge Laius' death by executing or exiling his killer. Oedipus' brother-in-law Creon tells him to ask the prophet, Tiresias, who the killer is. Tiresias tells Oedipus that he does not want to know who the killer is, but Oedipus keeps on Tiresias until he tells Oedipus that,' I charge you, then, submit to that decree you just laid down: from this day onward speak to no one, not these citizens, nor myself. You are the curse, the corruption of the land.' (Sophocles 833) At first Oedipus thinks Creon put Tiresias up to say what he said. He questions Jocasta about the party Laius was traveling with and he starts to think that he might have killed Laius, so he sends for the survivor of the party traveling with Laius to find out for sure if it was Laius he killed. Then a messenger comes from Athens telling them that Polybus is dead from natural causes.

Jocasta tries to comfort Oedipus by saying the curse could not be true if his father died of natural causes, but the messenger tells Oedipus that he is not Polybus' biological son. The survivor was also the same man who took Oedipus when he was born to the woods. He confirmed that he was not Polybus's on and he was Laius's on. As these events occurred the audience begins to that the curse has already came true.

Oedipus' the King arouses pity and fear in the audience. Pity starts rising when Oedipus born and is sent away into the woods to die. The audience feels pity for Oedipus when he realizes that despite all his efforts the curse still came true. Pity also arises when Jocasta kills herself and after Oedipus gouges out his eyes. Fear arises in the audience when Oedipus is talking to Tiresias. The audience knows that he is the cause of the plague, but fears that Oedipus is going to find out that he was the cause of the plague.

The audience also fears when Oedipus is talking to the messenger and the audience fears that Oedipus is going to find out that the curse has already came true. As pity and fear occurs throughout the play, it leads up to the catastrophe at the end of the play. Oedipus the King further fits into the definition of a tragedy because the play ends in an unhappy catastrophe. After Oedipus finds out that the curse has come true, that he really killed his father and married his mother. Jocasta kills herself and Oedipus gouges out his eyes. 'As Oedipus was doing the deed, he cried out that his eyes should no longer be able to look upon his crimes; before, his eyes had seen those they should not have seen, and failed to recognize those they ought to have recognized (Buxton, 109).

Oedipus leads Athens blinded and being lead away by his daughters. Oedipus the King end s up being a great tragedy. Its plot, the arousing of pity and fear in the audience, and the ending as a catastrophe.