Oedipus The King 3 Essay, Research Paper
Oedipus the King Ankle Theory
The classification of Oedipus the King as a tragedy requires it to meet certain criteria pertaining to the main character, Oedipus. Oedipus must have no control over the situation which he is in, he has to have been harmed by someone for doing nothing or doing what is just, and he must come to an end in which he is utterly lost, or dies without resolving the situation. I believe all three of these criteria can be found represented under a symbol, and that symbol is the piercing of his ankles as a child.
The first of the criteria, having no control over the situation he is in, can be met in several situations, and is symbolized by the ankle piercing because he could not stop his father from piercing his ankles as a baby. Due to the Greeks strong belief in set destiny, the moment the Seer told Oedipus real father what would occur, his life was set in stone. Try as he might, we know that Oedipus could no more have avoided killing his father than he could breathing. It is an unconscious act that is controlled by a force not in his realm of understanding nor his ability to stop or avoid it.
Next, the criteria of having been harmed for no fault of his own, is one of the major themes of the play, and reiterated by Oedipus ignorance to his own problem. Though his father may have had a reason to want Oedipus dead, after hearing what the mystic had to say about young Oedipus future, it was not Oedipus fault that he was destined to do what he was. A second example of this, when Oedipus does in fact kill his father, he is met at the crossroads and attacked by his father s men, through no fault of his own. Once again this displays the symbolism of his ankles being pierced as a child, meeting the second of the three criteria.
Finally, in the end, as in all Greek tragedies, Oedipus must come to an unhappy ending in which he dies, or is utterly lost. The symbolism here under the ankle piercing is also the first step to his bad end, since if his father did not take Oedipus out to the woods and pierce him, then leave him to die, Oedipus would never have killed his father nor married his mother. Just as the father sealed his own fate by trying to kill his child, he sealed Oedipus fate as well. So, in the end, Oedipus leaves, releases his children, and goes of with Creon to die as far as is told, thus completing the tragedy, just as he was left out to die by his father.
To conclude, I believe that the ankle theory ties together so many elements of the story that, as a symbol, it is one of the few complete links in this story. Not only does it represent each of those three elements I discussed earlier, but there were also unmistakable similarities between the three, all presented by the symbol of the ankle being pierced.