When you start to analyze Oedipus’s and Antigone’s crimes it becomes easy to notice similarities between them. Both of their actions are considered criminal because of their potential to disrupt social order, they threaten the power of the state and for that reason they must be punished somehow. In both plays you can easily see how their pride affects their decisions throughout the plot and how those decisions will later on impact social order and on themselves as a character.
In Oedipus, for example, he thinks he can defy the gods and change his fate, but he ends up realizing that there is no way to change what is supposed to happen during his lifetime. Oedipus has immense pride, so much that he believes he can outsmart the gods who prophesied, via the oracle of Delphi, that he would kill his father and marry his mother.
When the oracle gave him the prophecy, he decided then not to return home so that way he would be far from his parents and avoiding such terrible fate would be easier to accomplish but it is because of his pride and his decision of trying to deny the prophecy that he unwittingly killed his father and slept with his mother.
During the beginning of the play, Oedipus has a commanding presence and dominates his subjects and by the end of the play he will be revealed as a character to be pitied. In lines 295-300 (page 1784-1785) Oedipus show a tone of arrogance towards the chorus when he was debating on defying the gods and his fate.
His arrogance at believing that he is above the law and that he can somehow escape his own fate will all lead to his downfall. Keeping in mind that he did all those things unintentionally there is a good case to say that his crime was his own pride. In legal terms, he’s not really guilty of having killed his father or marrying his mother because he had no idea he had done either of them.
In Antigone’s play, her fate it’s not much different from his father/uncle, she understood that defying the king is a crime punishable by death but her pride was too strong to not let her oversee from leaving her dead brother unburied like many of other soldiers and open for the dogs and birds to eat.
Antigone ends up taking her own life because she does not accept her “crime” that according to her was a noble act. “Every dead person should be treated the same” is what she believes in and stay true to until the end of the play when you can predicate that the Gods are on her side.
Oedipus also keep true to his values and once he finds out that he was the murder of the king he punishes himself by stabbing his own eyes and walking around blind through the dull surface of earth with his two daughters.
Tragically, because of their pride, both father and daughter, died needlessly. Is pride really more important than your own life? In today’s society pride corrupts people in every way, not choosing gender, race or religion. You can say that most crimes are committed because people take more pride on things than they should and for that reason they take impulsive actions.
It’s hard to analyze crime putting in perspective the 21st century, from when the play was written a lot of social norms changed along with some moral values. Murder and incest are the first two things we relate when we think of the play Oedipus the king, however, if you consider what the ancients thought, there might be a slightly difference.
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