In "Oedipus Rex," by Sophocles, Oedipus faces a broad range of emotional elements, experiencing polar opposites of: Fame/shame, sight/blindness, and ignorance/insight. On a grander scale, there is an extreme difference between his life as a wanderer and finally being King of Thebes. Oedipus was an intelligent man who relied on his wits to a great extent and rose to be king. Yet he ultimately relied on his quick wits too much, and lost his kingdom, after unbeknownst to Oedipus, he murdered his father. This dramatic irony illustrates Oedipus's search for his own identity, an identity composed of polar feelings and emotions. Slackinwhilesleepin asked, "Does this guy know he's bipolar?" To answer that I say nay, he was not, but instead polarity meaning two opposites in the same person that are used by the author to contrast decisions, and perhaps society.
Oedipus answered the riddle of the Sphinx, “Man,” which in turn led him to become the king of the grateful Thebans. He took the room and throne of his father, Laius, espoused the widowed queen, his own mother, Jocasta, who bore children to Oedipus. This was supposed to be his fame, becoming king for his good works. It happened overnight, a great representation of Oedipus’s hasty decisions. After a plague had overrode his kingdom, Oedipus said, “I will lend my aid To avenge this wrong to Thebes and to the god. Not for some far-off kinsman, but myself, Shall I expel this poison in the blood." This plague was the consequence of his killing Laius, which ruined his fame, bringing unto him shame. Oedipus protested, “Yet kings must rule,” to which Creon replied, “Not if they rule ill.” Oedipus was a good ruler, but ill fate ruled him. Hasty again, Oedipus ruins his remaining fame by blinding himself with his own hands, upon seeing his wife dead - by her own hands. Oedipus is exiled in shame to save Thebes from the plague.
The sight of Oedipus was farther than the reach of his own hands, but was blind to the fate the Gods gave him until he met up with his disaster of so long ago. He saved people from the sphinx with his great intellect, called for the oracle in times of need, and ruled the lands prosperously all in great sight. Jocasta upon Oedipus’s inquiry of Laius’s murder, told him of the servant, “For as soon as he (servant) returned and found Thee reigning in the stead of Laius slain, He clasped my hand and supplicated me To send him to the alps and pastures, where He might be farthest from the sight of Thebes.” Oedipus was told by Loxias of his pending destiny, foretelling “That (Oedipus) should mate with (his) own mother, and shed With (his) own hands the blood” of his own father and sire and he left who he saw were his parents, missing their “sweetest sight, (his) parents’ face.” All these sights Oedipus saw, and using his intellect decided to run from his fate walking in fact right into it. Fates telling, no man can walk away from his fate, and the Gods seemingly reprimand Oedipus with his own self consequence of blinding his once natural sight. Though Oedipus’s judgement may have led him to become King, he misjudges Teiresias by telling him, “For thou In ear, wit, eye, in everything art blind,” when in fact Oedipus was the more blind of the two. Weighing these two polarities, his sight and blindness, it is apparent that Oedipus could only see so far, but far enough to be a temporary king.
No man can have great insight and not be ignorant. Oedipus is a shining example of a man with great insight but with great ignorance of others and even his own insight. He killed a man because he was “mistreated” with a bop on his head by a passer coach. Then, knowing of this death did nothing until consequences were catching up, “But none has seen the man who saw him fall,” suggesting that he knew not of the servant who got away. If his insight had gone past his solving of the riddle, he would never have killed a man on such terms, confirming his correct downfall. Comparing Oedipus to Creon, who with wisdom said, “The truth, for time alone reveals the just; A villain is detected in a day,” it is apparent that Oedipus was ignorant to truth, no matter his own insight. Oedipus’s downfall for his ignorance that fate cannot be avoided, supposing to use his insight of knowing his fate to flee, was avoidable, but rather it was not.
Oedipus’s rises and falls correspond with the polarity of his actions, evolving from wanderer to king, and from king to a blind, exiled, and pride beaten man. Fluctuating in his search, Oedipus went on sloping hills, often acting upon his intelligence to mighty victories and unfortunate downfalls. Oedipus's identity, one always being searched for by himself and others, was free from fate, but bound by it too nonetheless.