In the opening of Oedipus the King, Oedipus is portrayed as a caring and compassionate person. He seemed to be very concerned that the people of Thebes are suffering and wanted to find out why and how to fix as fast as possible. He declared that he would fix the problem regardless of what or who it was. However, within that same scene when Creon came back with the reasoning behind the suffering, it became more obvious that Oedipus was more arrogant than he was caring. He felt as though he could fix everything regardless of what it was.
He was so confident that he could that even when Creon tried to tell him that it was best to discuss the problem in private, he insisted that it be told publicly in front of all the citizens of Thebes. Even after it was told what the problem was, he still felt as though it could solve the problem.
His arrogance shows again when Tiresias tells him that he was the murderer. Instead of asking why Tiresias thought this, he immediately began to criticize and insult him. He also began to accuse Tiresias of conspiring with Creon to overthrow him.
Although we know the truth now, at that time Tiresias could very well have just been telling him that something he did indirectly caused the death of Laius. Instead of trying to find out why Tiresias thinks he is the murderer, Oedipus immediately decides to doubt the powers of the prophet that he and all the other citizens have always believed. It wasn’t until Oedipus was told the truth about who he murdered and then his background that his arrogance began to become somewhat suppressed.
At this point in the story it seems as though Oedipus has become shameful and full of embarrassment. He was ashamed fist that he was not the biological son of those he had always thought to be his parents. He was then ashamed that he had killed his father who was also the previous king of Thebes. Once he found out that the woman he was married to and had fathered children with was actually his mother, was ashamed but also seemed to be embarrassed.
He was embarrassed I believe mainly because he finally had to admit that the prophets were right about his fate. Also he was embarrassed because he had to do what he promised the people of Thebes he would do. When Jocasta first appeared in the play, it seemed as though she was trying to be a peacemaker between Oedipus, Creon, and Tiresias. Even when she was discouraging Oedipus from looking further into the finding his biological parents she was trying to keep him possibly finding out things that could be devastating to him.
It wasn’t until the shepherd told Oedipus whose child it was that was given to Polybus and Merope was the child of Laius that it became obvious that the real reason she didn’t want Oedipus to search for his biological parents was that she had already realized that she was Oedipus’ mother. It is understandable that she was embarrassed and ashamed that she was married and had children with her son and that it was her fault that this happened.
However, when she hung herself after realizing the truth, it shows that she is a coward and possibly cold hearted. While she could not fix what was already done, it was her duty as a mother and a wife to make sure it was a person that actually cared for and loved Oedipus to actually be the one that tells him the truth about his background. It was the decision that she and Laius made to have their child destroyed that indirectly led to Oedipus being raised by “foster parents”, the death of Laius