Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman and Sophocles' Oedipus the King
An overwhelming desire for personal contentment and unprecedented reputation can often result in a sickly twisted distortion of reality. In Sophocles' Oedipus the King, a man well-known for his intellect and wisdom finds himself blind to the truth of his
life and his parentage. Arthur Miller's play, The Death of a Salesman, tells of a tragic character so wrapped up in his delusional world that reality and illusion fuse causing an internal explosion that leads to his undoing. Each play enacts the strugg
of a man attempting to come to grips with his harsh reality and leaving behind his comfortable fantasy world. ...view middle of the document...
Soon, he too learns of his dreadful fate and seeking to avoid it, he flees Corinth. As fate would have it, along the road, Oedipus crosses Laius' path in a chance meeting and after arly being "jostled off the road" by Laius, feels "infurious and land[s] him a blow" that kills him, unwittingly fulfilling the first half of the prophecy (54). Traveling on to Thebes, Oedipus saves the city from the drought by solving the riddle of the phinx. Declared the new King of Thebes, he marries the widowed Queen Jocasta - his mother, unknowingly fulfilling the second half of the prophecy. For the next two decades, Oedipus rules successfully in Thebes until Hera sends a second drought to plague he city. After sending his brother-in-law, Creon, back to the Delphic oracle for a reading, Oedipus learns that the second drought will not be lifted until the city of Thebes "discovers and banishes the just blood of Lauis' assassin (26)." An over-confint, yet unknowing King Oedipus takes charge of the investigation, and in doing so, condemns himself.
From the beginning of this unfortunate play Oedipus the King, Oedipus takes many actions and makes many choices leading to his own downfall. He could have endured the plague, but out of "compassion for his suffering people," he has Creon go to Delphi (
). When he learns of Apollo's word, he could have calmly investigated the murder of the former King Laius, but in his hastiness, he condemns the murderer saying he will be "cut off from every fellowship of speech and contact, sacrifice and sacrament...t
ust out of every home, the very picture of pestilence" and in doing so, unknowingly curses himself (32). Oedipus chooses to ignore multiple warnings of the truth of his life and parentage. He chooses to ignore the ruinous prophecy of his "destiny to mur
r his father and marry his mother" because he feels he can escape the prophecy of the gods (22). Oedipus attempts to defy the gods by fleeing his homeland, Corinth, but instead flings himself directly into the hands of fate. Oedipus ignores another very
nlightening warning of truth in disregarding the words of Tiresias. He believes he has successfully escaped his own destiny and therefore, Tiresias' words mean nothing, but Oedipus couldn't have been farther from the truth. In a few moments, Tiresias pr
ides Oedipus with everything he needs to know concerning his fate by saying, "the rotting canker in the state is you...you and your most dearly loved wrapped together in a hideous sin - blind to the horror of it" (37). Despite this obvious proclamation
truth, Oedipus "being his own worst enemy" chooses to wallow in his pleasant fantasy, that he has escaped his inevitable fate (38). Oedipus' own foolish decisions ultimately lead to his downfall in this tragic play. Oedipus chooses to kill Laius. He ch
ses to marry Jocasta. He chooses to forcefully and very publicly assume the mission of discovering the identity of Laius' killer saying ironically, "I shall not...