The fact that the audience knows the dark secret that Oedipus unwittingly slew his true father and married his mother does nothing to destroy the suspense.
Oedipus’s search for the truth has all the tautness of a detective tale, and yet because audiences already know the truth they are aware of all the ironies in which Oedipus is enmeshed.
Every act of his is performed rashly: his hot-tempered killing of Laius, his investigation of the murder, his violent blinding of himself, and his insistence on being exiled.
He is a man of great pride and passion who is intent on serving Thebes, but he does not have tragic stature until the evidence of his guilt begins to accumulate.
However, the paths humans take toward their pre-determined destinations remain for them to choose, as do the attitudes they adopt toward the gods’ decrees.
Long before the play opens, Laius and Jocasta left their son for dead to thwart the terrible prophecy that he would someday kill his father and marry his mother.
Ironically, his past is revealed to him by people who wish him well and who want to reassure him.
Each time a character tries to comfort him with information, the information serves to damn him more thoroughly.
He does not submit passively to his woe or plead that he committed his foul acts in ignorance, though he could be justified in doing so.
He blinds himself in a rage of penitence, accepting total responsibility for what he did and determined to take the punishment of exile as well.