The Inescapable Fate
The Inescapable Fate
Sophocles??™ play Oedipus the King is one of the most ironic tragedies ever written. The character of Oedipus is complex and multidimensional; on one hand he is a loving, just and upright king but his arrogance and desire for justice eventually show to be his tragic flaws. Memento Directed by Christopher Nolan, is an ironic film follows the hollow and the relentless pursuit for justice of Leonard, despite his sever short-term memory loss. The film Memento and play Oedipus the King both follow the main character??™s heroic search for the truth and ironically ends with both Oedipus and Leonard being culprit in their own stories. Although they are both in one way a victim of fate, they ends up being a noble yet arrogant heroes who make critical errors in judgment and turth that set off the events through the course of their story.
When Creon informs Oedipus that someone murdered his predecessor, Laius, Oedipus states that he will stop at nothing in order to have justice. He calls for anyone with knowledge of the murder to come and shed light on the culprit. Foolishly though in his arrogance he states, ???Nor do I exempt myself from this imprecation: If, with my knowledge, house or heart of mine receive the guilty man, upon my head. Lie all curses I
have laid on others??? (Page 32: 249-253). Much like Oedipus, Leonard is a man desperate by tragedy with having his last full memory of his wife being raped and murdered. Oedipus and Leonard are both driven to find the murderer, almost as if a god has sent him on a quest for justice. Both Oedipus and Leonard are completely dedicated to their cause and do not protect anyone, including themselves from there ???divine??? investigation.
Even though Oedipus does not protect himself from justice, it is even nobler that he is willing to let the people of his household pay the price if they are guilty. It is always easier to sacrifice ourselves rather than our loved ones and this illustrates his devotion to this cause. Memento having the on the edge of your seat detective story of a upright lawman trying to punish the guilty and establish the truth, with Leonard??™s ruthless pursuit of justice is at total odds between not being able to recall the past and forgetting the actual truth.
Oedipus then dooms himself when he says, ???The gods curse all that disobey this charge??¦ pursue them to their death!??? (Page 33: 302-306). Having Leonard??™s story explained in reverse chronological order, with each scene jumping backwards in to end where the one before began allows the experience of Leonard??™s struggle with amnesiac. Leonard??™s amnesiac allows everyone from the motel manager, Natalie, and the cop Teddy to take advantage of his condition. For example, Natalie comes to Leonard with a fresh bruise on her face convincing him that she was assaulted, asking Leonard to help her against her attacker. When just moments before she tricked Leonard into hitting her. These decree sets in motion the chain of events that eventually shows Oedipus and Leonard to be the killers. They are so consumed by the pursuit of justice that they never
even considers that they could be the guilty man. Leonard refuses to look at his long-term memories he remembers. His obsessiveness over the pursuit of justice creates a false memory of his wife dying in the attack. When in reality the insulin injection to a playful pinch with his wife was Leonard trying to change the truth, altering the diabetic story of Sammy Jenkins. Even when Leonard??™s ???FACTS??? information tattoos and the play??™s clues start pointing at them they refuses to cease their search. Both Oedipus??™ Leonard??™s arrogance, end up being their downfall and as a result, they follows the course that fate has set on them.
As Oedipus investigation continues and signs hint that Oedipus is the culprit he does not stop, rather he doubles his efforts to find justice. When the seer Teiresias is brought in Oedipus forces the man to tell him the truth and Teiresias says, ???Upon your head is the ban your lips have uttered- from this day forth never to speak to me or any here. You are the cursed polluter of this land (Page 35: 353-355). Teiresias states that Oedipus is the killer, the bringer of the curse and that his ban on the killer has doomed himself. After the truth is told, the king refuses to accept it. He needs to be proven without a shadow of doubt who the actual ???villain??? is. Although he was fated for this Oedipus??™s actions set him on this course. It is honorable that Oedipus wants to continue on even though circumstances look bad for him, but at the same time his vanity dooms him. This is evident when Jocasta, aware of the truth says, ???Yet do not do it. I implore you, do not do it.??? He replies, ???I must. I cannot leave the truth unknown.??? She finishes by saying, ???I know I am right. I am warning you for your good??? (Page 55: 1094-1097). .
Jocasta knows that Oedipus is her son/husband and still she begs Oedipus to ignore the truth to cease his efforts in finding the murder of Laius. Oedipus refuses to listen though.
Repeatedly, his tragic flaw is that he cannot let matters be as they are; he must get to the bottom of things. This is a heroic sentiment but at foolish. He refuses to listen to everyone??™s advice, to stop searching for the truth. They love and know that it will hurt him but their pleas fall on deaf ears.
The tattoo on the flesh of Leonard is a reminder that he lies to himself to hide from the truth, not just about the Sammy Jenkins tale. Ultimately if Leonard accepts the truth, then he will find out his is the killer, but he rejects the truth. If he accepts the truth of him killing his wife, the memories he trust and tattooed under ???FACTS??? will be lies. Finding out he is the culprit of his own investigation.
If Oedipus had not been fated to kill his father and marry his mother he would be a far less sympathetic character and his actions would seem stupid, but, because his fate was seemingly unavoidable and his character so noble, this quest for truth ends up being a tragic story. So when he finally realizes that he is in fact guilty of patricide, regicide, and sodomy he goes above and beyond his decree of punishment; stabs out his eyes with a knife and then flees his kingdom. Oedipus??™ story is heartbreaking because he let his pride get in the way and pursues justice so relentlessly. This ends with him punishing himself for a crime that he had little to no control over; a crime he was fated to do.
Oedipus??™s character is heroic in that as a king it is his duty to see justice done. He acts as a bloodhound throughout the play, never resting until the guilty party pays the price. Ironically the guilty person ends up being himself and as a result his greatest
quality also ends up being his greatest flaw. His search for the truth is a heroic one, even when all the signs point towards him, he continues on, unable to escape fate.