Philoctetes-electra and oedipus rex essay

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Philoctetes, Electra and Oedipus Rex, which were written by Sophocles shows us consistent rules of mythological material. Among the consistent elements that Sophocles uses fate foreseen from prophecy, the role of deities and revenge are three elements that can be observed from the work of Sophocles.

The mythological use of fate foreseen from a prophecy is used in all three plays by Sophocles. In Oedipus Rex, Oedipus, who is the son of king Laius and Queen Jocasta fated to be the killer of his own father at the beginning of the play. Later, in the story, he found out from Tiresias, who is a blind prophet that he will be brother and father to his own children, and also husband and son to his own mother. Oedipus fate seems to be predetermined from the prophecy and all the prophecy are proven to be accurate because we can see that all of them are fulfilled until the end of the play.

In Philoctetes play, Philoctetes, who is the main character was fated to be the key to win the Trojan War. Helenus, a prophet in the Trojan War tells Odysseus that in order to win the Trojan War, they need Philoctetes and the bow of Heracles, which is possessed by Philoctetes. Philoctetes who was left behind by the Greeks and Odysseus eventually fulfill his fate. He joins the war and helps the Greeks to win the war.

In Electra play, Cassandra, who is a winning prize of Agamemnon from Trojan War, has a precognition of herself and Agamemnon being murdered. However, knowing her fate from her own prophecy, she cannot do anything because she has been cursed by Apollo that no one will believe in her prophecy until it is too late. As a result, she cannot convince everybody that her own life and Agamemnon’s in jeopardy and they have to bear their fate; killed by Clytemnestra and Aegisthus.

In the plays, we find out that in all three plays, the deities always take part in the story. The role of the deities in all three plays always close to whether give a judgment, and provide a remedy or punishment based on the judgment. In Oedipus Rex, we know that at the very beginning of the play that Laius, who is the king of Thebes and father of Oedipus abduct Chrysippus, bring him to Thebes, and raped him. By committing this shameful action, Laius placed a cursed upon himself. We can safely assume that the law was set by the deities because Laius himself is the king of Thebes, who should have his own jurisdiction over the entire Thebes land, but if he should receive a punishment, the jurisdiction should come from a higher authority in this case, gods. Therefore, the gods should judge Laius upon his crime, and provide punishment, which in this case a curse to Laius and his descendants.

In Philoctetes play, Philoctetes was the one who light the fire for Heracles funeral, and for this action, he was given Heracles’s bow. Later in the play, we recognize Heracles as one of the gods and promise Philoctetes a remedy if only he abide Heracles words to help the Greek win the Trojan War. Because of Philoctetes abiding action, a positive judgment should come from the deities, and remedy should be given to him, in this particular case, a healing to his wounded foot.

In Electra, Orestes who has been cursed by Clytemnestra, tormented by the furies until Athena called twelve judges including herself to decide the fate of Orestes. Athena argues that in a marriage, the man is more important than the woman because Athena was born from Zeus without a mother. Although the vote is balance from each side, but Oedipus was free from the furies because of interference from Athena who cast the last vote for Orestes that allows him to be freed from the furies.

The theme revenge is present in all three plays. Oedipus Rex, Electra, and Philoctetes all have the element of revenge in the play. Although in Philoctetes, the main character does not explicitly show rage of revenge to the Greeks, but we can imply that Philoctetes would be happy if he does not join the war, so the Greek can suffer from what they did to Philoctetes. That suffering will be Philoctetes revenge to the Greeks. However, Philoctetes ended up helping the Greek was because mandate from Heracles.

In Oedipus Rex, Oedipus was caught in a tragedy because he does not know why he was out casted by his own family. Before he know everything, he already killed his father and sleep with his mother. Although it is certain that he would not mind to kill his father in order to have his revenge if only he know everything from the start, before he know anything, he already have been in an irony.

Electra and Orestes motive clearly shows that they want to take revenge for Agammemnon because their father was killed by their mother who is having an affair with another man.

As we read the play, we start to realize that one tends to have a sense of revenge when he, or she has been an outcast. Oedipus, Philoctetes, and Orestes were an outcast. They were flushed away from their origin because of personal, or collective interest. Oedipus, and Orestes were out casted because of personal interest, while Philoctetes was out casted because of collective interest. However, we who read the plays does not have any problem with their revenge because we perceive revenge as a remedy for those who give a selfish judgment which results in immoral action.

In the three plays, Sophocles consistently uses mythological element such as fate foreseen from prophecy, the role of deities, and element of revenge. One’s fate has been predetermined and it can be seen through prophecy in Greek mythology. The interference of gods can also provide a remedy and punishment, depending on the judgment. In Philoctetes we see that Heracles promise to heal his wound if he join the Greek in the Trojan War. Laius and his descendants were cursed by the gods because of Laius shameful action, and Athena freed Orestes from the furies because of Athena judgment of marriage. We also see revenge as a justification of wrongful action. In a sense we would not have a problem with Orestes, Philoctetes, and Oedipus to have revenge because we have a mindset that they have to take a revenge for their remedy.

Reference no: EM13144526

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