Oedipus Foil Essay
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In Sophocles’ Oedipus the King, Creon serves as a foil to Oedipus. With the theme “fate vs. freewill” the character of Oedipus struggles against his fate that was prophesized before he was born, eventually failing to outrun the impending doom of his tragic life. In this story Oedipus seems to have more negative traits, while Creon’s’ traits have a more positive feel. If Oedipus’ traits were not so profound, and he did not act based on his emotions, he might of succeeded in his fight against fate.
Oedipus was hasty, “What do you want? You want me banished? / No, I want you dead” (697-8). While Creon was more patient. “I find you a menace, a great burden to me. / Just one thing here me out on this” (612-3). If Oedipus was more patient, he could have avoided killing Laius at the crossroads, at least postponing his fate. Laius would have probably still been alive when Oedipus killed the sphinx. He would not have become king, or married Jocasta, and the plague would have not fallen upon Thebes. If Creon had been more hasty, he might of left Thebes or been banished when Oedipus accused him of treason, and not have taken the throne afterwards. If Oedipus was not as hasty and Creon not as patient, Oedipus might have avoided his fate, at least temporarily.
Both Creon and Oedipus are loyal to the people of Thebes. Creon saying, “But reject a friend, a kinsmen? I would as soon / tear out the life within us, priceless life itself” (686-7). While Oedipus is loyal by seeking out the murderer, and leaving after he finds out he is the murderer, so that the plague will be lifted. If Oedipus was not as loyal to the people, and finding Laius’ killer, he might have not pushed for answers from Tiresias or the shepherd, and let the plague overtake Thebes. Also, if he was not loyal to the people he might have not sent Creon for Tiresias, or vowed to find the killer himself, “No, I’ll start again – I’ll bring it to light myself” (105).
If Oedipus had been less stubborn when trying to avoid his fate, he might not have left that night and met Laius at the cross roads. If he was rational when accused by Tiresias he probably would not have accused him of plotting the murder of the king, and not accused Creon of treachery. If Creon was more stubborn, and acted upon emotion as Oedipus does, instead of rationally, “…Look at it this way first / who in his right mind would tater rule / and live in anxiety then sleep in peace?” (653-5), he might not have succeeded in calming Oedipus down after the meeting with Tiresias. If Oedipus was less stubborn when seeking out the killer, he might have stopped pursuing answers when Tiresias and the shepherd did not give them to him straight away, or stopped when Jocasta begged him to, “Oh no, listen to me, I beg you, don’t do this. / Listen to you? No more, I must know it all, must see the truth at last” (1168-9)
Thus, if Oedipus had stopped to consider his actions, and think things through, he may have avoided, or at least postponed his fate. And if Creon was more impulsive, he may have avoided taking up the throne after Oedipus, and the events that followed in Antigone. If Oedipus had not acted based on his emotions, and his negative traits were less profound he might have succeeded in his fight against his inevitable fate. The story would have also gone differently if Creon thought less rationally and acted more like Oedipus. Therefore, the way people respond to things throughout their lives has a direct impact on the events that follow.