Discuss the Metaphysical Vision of Sophocles in Oedipus Rex.
Etymologically, Metaphysical means beyond physical or something abstract or outside the world; but it is related to the universe.
Sophocles has described in King Oedipus, what he believes from his religious view or metaphysical vision of man’s life in the universe and King Oedipus is regarded as Sophocles’ masterpiece, and the greatest of all Greek tragedies. The tragedy evidences the writer’s artistic excellence. It is dominated by the powerful figure of Oedipus. In spite of his hastiness, faults and proud he is a good man.
According the view of Sophocles, the universal system is fixed and what will happen to a man’s life is fixed. Everything is fixed from God. If anyone wants to break the system or go to the opposite side of the nature he will suffer a lot and face many problems. Nobody can avoid it or change it. In Tithonus, Alfred Lord Tennyson also mentions that the result of the opposite sides of nature is always terrible and it always bears the horrible sufferings, which suffers the hero of this poem Tithonus for his immortality.
There is also a proverb that, ‘what is slotted cannot be bolted.’
Oedipus is the hero of this play and he is also the son of King Laius and queen Jocasta. Before his birth, Delphi Oracle said to his parents that, he would kill his father and marry his mother. Hearing this, King Laius tried to keep himself separate from the queen so that they could not make any physical relation and produce any child. But after many days later, the queen made King Laius bound to lie with her by feeding him much wine. So, they made a physical relation and produced a child.
As they knew that the child would kill the king and marry the queen, so they tied his legs with a strong roof and ordered a shepherd to keep him on the pick of the mountain to die. But the shepherd did not keep the baby on the mountain. He took pity to the baby and gave it to another shepherd who was the member of another kingdom. He took it and showed him to the king Polybus who had no child. So, he became very happy to get Oedipus. He and his wife took great care Oedipus like their child. Gradually Oedipus became grower day by day.
One day a drunker said at a banquet that Oedipus was not the son of King Polybus. It made him hurt. So, secretly he went to Delphi and asked the oracle who his parents were. Instead of answering the question, the oracle prophesized that he would kill his father and marry his mother who would bear children by him. This awful prediction had shocked Oedipus and in order to get rid of its fulfillment, he left his country because he loved his parents very much and he did not want to kill his father and marry his mother. At the time of his wondering, he reached at the spot where three roads met and where, without any provocation by him, he got involved in a fight with a few travellers. Only for a simple matter a major problem has been created. Oedipus has killed his father king Laius and his solders.
He returns to his own country but he does not know that it is his own country. It is the creation of destiny.
After some moments Oedipus met with a sphinx which was a monster. It asked a question to the people but everybody failed to give the correct answer and when they failed to give the correct answer it ate him/her. It also asked Oedipus the same question but he gave the correct answer and the sphinx jumped from the mountain and died. When the people of that country had learnt about the greatest success of Oedipus they became happy to Oedipus and as a gift they gave their queen to Oedipus as their king was killed. So Oedipus was bound to marry the queen who was his own mother.
In this drama, according to the interpretation of Sophocles, we find that the universal system is fixed. Everything is fixed from God. We also observe that Oedipus has tried his best to escape from his fate and avoid his destiny but he fails. Here, destiny has totally won and the fate has proved that no man can deny his sorrow and suffering.